Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Alarm Call of the Red-Winged Blackbird

This morning I woke up excited to join thousands of people around the world who are participating in the 3rd annual Sit Spot Challenge. It has been raining here and the farm fields have been freshly plowed so I had to take care on how I walked along the fields. It was muddy and I loved it.

This morning I felt the need to be out in nature. A need to get grounded and reflect on things that have been going on in my life, where I am going and such. I was also thinking of my friends Kyle and Kevin as they made their way to Maine to join White Pines in the Bird Language Course. And I was wishing I could be with them.

As I entered into my secret sit spot, I went with my intuition and decided to sit close to the small pond. I was drawn to sit under a big walnut tree with squirrel signs. The pond was swollen with water from the recent rains and the red winged blackbirds were busy chasing each other and calling their territorial calls.

As I sat there listening, I closed my eyes and listen to all the interesting calls the red winged blackbirds were making, with the killdeer calling "kill-deer" in the background and the two robins to the NW of me. There was a lot of activity!

Then, it all went quiet and a different call, started first with the red winged blackbirds then the robins. It was a sound I had not heard before, like a very loud high-pitched one note whistle. I opened my eyes and noticed all the birds were still. Still calling that one note, but not flying around. I could hear a few of the birds fluttering from branch to branch above me. I remained as still as possible and used my owl eyes to scan the area.

What was going on, why is this alarm from the blackbirds going? Then I see the culprit.... a round tailed, banded tail, streaked bird about the size of a crow. It was flying in and out of the bushes where the red-winged blackbirds were. At first I wasn't sure if it was a Sharp-Shinned or a Cooper's. So I took note of distinguishing marks as fast as I could because in a few seconds it was gone.

Then the birds went back to their activity of singing and diving at each other. Even the females climbed up the old cat tails.

It was a great gift to witness, the alarm call of the red-winged Blackbird. And a great start to the challenge.

Enjoy the day!

P.S. When I got home, I looked it up... Cooper's Hawk.