Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Brightly Black

Some birds are so common as to be frequently overlooked and unappreciated, but when we take the time to enjoy those feathered friends that are around us most often, we see new beauty in each of them. Such was the case with the red-winged blackbirds that I made acquaintance with while in Michigan - so often I pass over them at home in the search for something more unusual, more colorful or just that elusive "more" so many birders seek. Yet when I finally had the opportunity to take a semi-birding walk while in a different area, these birds stood out - but not necessarily for the reason you might expect.

It wasn't their uniqueness that struck me - I see these birds often, nearly everywhere I manage to go birding. It wasn't their coloration either, though I do appreciate the stark colors of the males' plumage and the adept camouflage of the females. And it wasn't their raucous calls, often considered less than musical but just as distinct as any warbler.

What did strike me was simply their location. I may see them in many places, but you wouldn't expect any birds in an area of wetland less than seventy-five yards long and barely half as wide, next to a busy highway, with no other wetland or typical red-winged blackbird habitat for miles. Yet there they were, several pairs in fact, raucously proclaiming their territory with a cacophony of calls from high atop the scanty section of reeds. Happily at home, they made it clear where their boundaries were, and boy did anyone get an earful who dared to cross those borders.

Birds are simply amazing, and so adaptable. So many lessons we can learn from them - adapt to your surroundings, but defend your space (whether physical or psychological) fiercely. Work together as needed, but don't force yourself on others, and don't allow yourself forced upon. And most of all, fly free - no matter where you may be.

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