The red-winged blackbird, a native of North America, is hard to miss. One of the very early sign of spring in northeast Ohio, they are likely to be heard long before they are seen when their spring migration brings them back to our park. Once they arrive, they make their presence known with raucous calls, just as this fellow was doing when I took his picture. During migration, the Red-winged blackbird is capable of cruising over 30 mph, and when they reach their nesting area, the pair will raise 2-3 broods in a season. For each brood they build a new nest because the old nest might be infested with parasites that could kill their babies.
Red-winged blackbirds like to nest in wetlands, marshes, and around rivers, which makes the Chagrin River Park, with its river, bog, and marshy areas, a prime habitat for Redwings. It also provides the seeds and invertebrates that make up the staples of their diet. Bird watchers need to be aware, however, that Mrs. Redwing doesn’t look anything like her mate. Her feathers are heavily streaked in dark and pale brown tones. She looks more like a large sparrow and can be difficult for the beginning birder to identify.
I only had time for a short walk today, so I was delighted to find this fellow perched on a skinny tree not far from the river. I had taken the river trail because it runs past a pair of bluebird nests, and I was hoping to see the bluebirds. No luck in that hope however, but Mr. Redwinged blackbird makes a good substitute. I’ll just have to keep looking for the bluebirds.