“The birds I heard today, which, fortunately, did not come within the scope of my science, sang as freshly as if it had been the first morning of creation.” -Henry David Thoreau-
When I moved to Walden pond, there were many unknowns to discover, both inside and out.
One of these unknown discoveries is the many different birds that live so intentionally and peacefully in harmony, rarely seen in man.
I have arranged some of the most intriguing birds into a series of articles that will appear weekly for your enjoyment.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived” -Henry David Thoreau-
The red-winged Blackbird represents re-birth and renewal. After a long winter in the Northeast, this beautiful bird is one of the first that we see softly, sweetly, singing spring song.
One of the songs is a whistle. A mating call that is accompanied by symmetrical body movement. The dance consists of stretching out large and circular like the sun.
As the deep cooing call comes, the red-winged blackbird spreads his wings in full display, appearing twice as large and more appealing to potential mates.
At first glance, it looks like almost any other blackbird just with a bright red stripe sitting above a yellow stripe on the shoulder of the wings.
Once the mating song has been sung, the bird opens its feathers to show its prowess, displaying the fullness of its wingspan and deep colours.
This beautiful blackbird spends most of its day flying back and forth from tree to tree, opting to sit atop the crowd wherever it lands.
This stunning and graceful creature directs the traffic of all the other birds around Walden pond with his unmistakable whistling voice.
At times acting as a radio control tower, the bird can be heard clearing the runway so that Canada geese can take off like jumbo jets after their swim.
It also acts as a defender of all nests and will help the other birds in the forest by distracting anyone who gets too close to said nests.
This bird is a leader among birds. One who takes pride in the tribe protector role, and it shows through the harmony that is seen in abundance around Walden pond.
There is one particular red-winged blackbird that I have come to adore for its whimsy and innovative nature. On the comical side, the bird keeps flying into the window at the front of the house.
It will start on the ledge and try to fly upwards, attacking the two fake bird decals affixed to the window.
The fake birds are there to prevent real birds from crashing into the window, and this seems to be a counterintuitive approach when it comes to the red-winged blackbird.
This beautiful bird will repeatedly smash into and then fall back down the face of the window in a feeble and funny effort.
The innovation aspect the bird shows is in morse code. How many humans know morse code? Exactly!
The bird can be seen perched on the metal antenna attached to the outside of the home. Intentionally, the bird starts pecking his message into the metal frame and over the ether, communicating with other birds.
At first, it seemed unfathomable, but after continued observation, it was unmistakable. A message would get sent, and from another antenna 500 ft away, a return message would arrive seconds later.
Back and forth, these messages would continue. I do not know morse code so it is unclear what the birds were communicating but they were clearly speaking back and forth through the rattling of metal.
The first time I thought it must be an echo; however, the pecking patterns perceived were different from each other in both length and speed.
In the early evening, with the sun at its back, the bird will sail smoothly toward the feeder, and the effect is the colourful yellow and red wings appear as a solid orange.
At other times the bird can be seen exiting a tree and diving down to the cattails at the pond’s edge, bracing onto a long stock as it bends but does not break. The bird will almost touch the water before turning back the opposite way, and then it will sit still, soaking up the sun.
The red-winged blackbird is the initial start to spring around Walden, and next comes the Robin, the official bird of Spring everywhere.