I’m not really a bird-watcher. At least, not in the sense that I stalk through the marshes in khaki shorts with a camera, looking for a glimpse of the rare plaid-bellied whispercrike.* But I do enjoy seeing them out my window, especially when they are colorful; and when I’m traveling, I get a kick out of seeing species that aren’t found in my neck of the woods…although most of the time I couldn’t identify them as anything other than hey-look-at-that-red-and-blue-bird-with-a-little-bit-of-yellow-on-the-wings.**
All that said…we have red-winged blackbirds*** in our neighborhood. They don’t show up all the time, but you notice them when they do, because of, um, the small bright red marking on the wings. They sort of stand out among the other run-of-the-mill blackbirds we see flying around.
Anywhoo…I used to love them. Not anymore. I have recently come to discover that they can be argumentative, persnickety, stubborn, and downright paranoid. Especially the male (identifiable because their colors are more brilliant than the female’s). And especially when that male is apparently guarding a nest of newly-hatched or soon-to-be-hatched baby red-winged blackbirds.
At least, this is what I surmise by the recent behavior of the male red-winged blackbird who has been sitting on top of our chimney all week and throwing a hissy-fit whenever a human or dog emerges from our house.
I’ve never seen the mate, or the nest, or the chicks. But apparently the nest is on or very near our house, possibly even in the chimney. (The Wild One thinks she may have heard the chicks through the fireplace.) But this daddy bird is taking his job very seriously. Nobody who comes within 200 yards of the place is exempt from his wrath, and everything that moves is perceived as a threat. (I think he might have even yelled at the tree in our backyard once when it blew in the breeze.) We hear it scolding things all day long, morning to night. (Apparently we have a very active neighborhood.)
And scolding isn’t all it does. Let me tell you how I actually “met” our feathered “friend.”
Finally the rains ended around here this week, and I got to give the lawn a much-needed mowing. But shortly after I began working in the yard, I began noticing a loud chirping and a winged shadow, looked up, and saw a very ticked-off red-winged blackbird flapping its wings just a few feet above my head.
I’ve been dive-bombed by birds before, so I recognized the behavior. (I know what you were doing while it was raining, you little rascal.) I headed for the covered patio, and the blackbird perched in the tree and yelled at me for awhile. When it got bored with that, it flew back up on our roof to keep watch. Sure enough, as soon as I left the patio, it began again. It never actually made contact with me, but it kind of did these flybys, like Tom Cruise buzzing the control tower with his jet in Top Gun. I figured if I didn’t get dive-bombed, I was going to get pooped on at some point. He’d fly overhead, go perch somewhere close, and fly by again. And the whole time, the bird never stopped complaining.
I thought, Hey, I’m your friend, pal. Don’t you know I can’t fly up there and hurt your kids? Don’t you know I like your pretty red wings? I’m on YOUR SIDE!! But it didn’t matter. This daddy bird was so overprotective, if these baby birds were human, they would never, ever get a driver’s license. Or go on a date.
The Wild One was all like, “Oh, how cute. He’s so afraid someone’s gonna hurt his babies.”
I was all like, “Afraid? That bird is paranoid.”
Sure, honey. Take the bird’s side. How the crap am I supposed to mow the lawn when I have to keep ducking? How do we stop him from dive-bombing the people when it’s time for house church?
I used to love the red-winged blackbird. Now I just hope those kids move away when they grow up.
*Not a real bird.
**Also not a real bird.
***This one is a real bird.
Permanent link to this post
(700 words, 2 images, estimated 2:48 mins reading time)