Bzzzz December 11th, 2007

I first noticed something was afoot when I was doing my morning walk. The crows were in an uproar!

We have several pairs of crows that live in the trees near our hay field. Despite their negative reputation, I adore crows. I enjoy the way they call back and forth from the treetops as if they’re having a conversation. And they aren’t frightened when I walk by–they just keep up their dialogue.

Crows are quite smart and can mimic the sounds of other birds and even humans. Although they may chase small animals, it’s all just part of their crow-minded entertainment.

“Hoho! Isn’t it fun to terrify the Papillons!”

Crows can live to be 20 years old. They often re-use their nests each year. And crows that aren’t mated pitch in to help raise the other young birds. They also will collect anything they find that is bright and shiny. Who wouldn’t love a bird who appreciates glittery finery!?!

So this morning, the crows were having a fit.

The woods were FILLED with a humongous pack of birds singing their heads off. I couldn’t see the bird pack, but I could certainly hear them. And the crows apparently were having quite a conversation about how to handle the situation.

I couldn’t identify the mystery bird sounds because they were all chattering at once. But while I was gazing out the window and munching on my icky, puny, sad salad lunch, I saw what I believe was the cause of the ruckus. Hundreds and hundreds of Red-Winged Blackbirds!


The male Red-Winged Blackbird is very distinctive–a jet black with a red epaulette on his wings. The females are more drab brown, but with distinctive streaks on their undersides.

The bird books all say that the Red-Winged Blackbird is a common bird in Maryland and Delaware. Well, I don’t care what the books say, we don’t really see much of them except in the winter. And when they do arrive, I usually only catch a glimpse of one or two.

My Stan Tekiela book on the Birds of Maryland & Delaware, which is practically worn to shreds from being frantically thumbed through, says that up to thousands of these birds will gather in fields like ours.

Well, today was a stellar bird day because, as you can see, there were hundreds. This photo only shows a small part of the field that they covered.


Of course, you can count on a Papillon to keep things exciting, so Sarah chased them into the trees.


They gave her what-for.

Too bad I actually have a job and can’t keep looking out the window. A bunch of Robins have finally arrived en masse today too.

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