Red-winged blackbirds are back

Less than a week ago the groundhog here in Kelowna, British Columbia, popped out of his hole, peered around the brown landscape, did not see his shadow, and pronounced winter over. [For those outside North America, here’s a good explanation of the folklore of Groundhog Day.]

Today, the sixth day of February, spring hit me in the ear. I was setting out on one of my Saturday pleasures, a kilometer’s hike to the Urban Harvest warehouse. That’s where we pick up our week’s supply of organic vegetables.

I was just passing the Waterscapes development (our newest neighbourhood addition of condos and townhouses). Suddenly a trilling sound caught my attention. Though the song was unmistakable, my brain dragged its psychic toes. Red-winged blackbirds set out on their annual migration around mid-February. They couldn’t have arrived so early.

Redwing blackbird
The redwing blackbirds are back early this year, but this photo is from 2009. No leaves on our trees just yet.

But they have, and their song thrilled me as it does every time I hear it. I looked for the bird in the photograph but didn’t see him. We’ll know if he returns, by the featherless patch on his head.

I walked along Brandt’s Creek, listening to the red-winged blackbirds, a song going through my head. It was David Francey’s 1989 song, “Red-Winged Blackbird”. Francey has generously uploaded the song and its lyrics, but don’t stop there. Francey is one of Canada’s finest singer/songwriters. Check out his Web site.

Welcome back, spring. You’re coming after a mild winter. We haven’t had enough snow in the mountains to replenish our water. You haven’t been cold enough to stop the pine beetles munching their way through our forests. But your harbingers are still welcome. Thanks for the song.

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One thought on “Red-winged blackbirds are back

  1. Pingback: Will the real twitterer please sing? « Crossroads – Cathryn Wellner

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