Bird of the Week: Red-winged Blackbird

red winged blackbirdFrom now on, as well as the usual cobblers that make up this blog, every week I’m going to try and nominate a bird for the “Bird of the Week” and this week is the beautiful Red-winged Blackbird.

We first became aware of this beautiful little guy last year during our drive to work. We noticed a bunch of odd little birds flying across the road at the same point of our journey every day, but flying in a most peculiar way; rather than just flying in a straight line they give a little burst of wing flapping, which caused them to gain altitude, followed by a short glide, during which they drop again. It gives them a sort of sawtooth flight pattern. On a few occasions they flew close enough for us to notice that they had red go-faster stripes on them.

Once we’d managed to identify these lovely little guys, we noticed from the pictures that rather than go-faster stripes, the red markings are actually more like the epaulettes of some dodgy military dictator – right down to the gold trim.

Over the winter we haven’t seen them at all and were beginning to wonder whether we’d imagined them…until last week.

Waiting over the road from my office, at the bush that designates the bus-stop, I noticed a swarm of odd little birds. They flew past me into the distance and then, two minutes later they appeared behind me and flew past again – all the time in a peculiar sawtooth flight pattern. This went on for about ten minutes before I realised…the red-wings are back! Now that the temperature is rising, they’ve come back to make babies and hang out in Philly!

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