Here in Michigan it still remains unusually chilly for this time of year, but spring is definitely on the way. The days are getting longer, bird song fills the morning air, and the trees are beginning to show their buds.
One of my favorite signs of spring is the return of the red-winged blackbirds. The males usually arrive in early March and start to stake out territory in every bit of cattail marsh they can find. Within a week or so they are everywhere; every roadside ditch seems to have its own resident male. Each bird announces his claim with loud calls and by flashing their bright red shoulder patches. For the next few weeks he will vigorously defend his territory from rival males. All this in the hopes that he and his patch of cattails will be met with approval by one of the females that will be returning in the next few weeks looking for a mate, and a nice place to raise a family.
Here is a shot of the Red-wing’s western cousin, the Yellow-headed Blackbird.