Monday, July 25, 2011
In addition to being the messiest eater of the bunch, this redwing blackbird, undoubtedly a Nazi, swept in out of nowhere, time after time, to control the bird feeders at our rental cottage in Minnesota a couple of weeks ago, tyrannicial behavior which made him, like any villian since Satan in Paradise Lost, both a pain in the butt as well as, well, fascinating. Nonetheless, we were sure that the number and character of any other potential feathered guests just outside our window was kept dispicably low by his never-ending bitching. . .and redwing blackbirds do bitch. It's really about all the do.
But, like so much else in life, even though they drive you half nuts, you got to love 'em and I do. Sort of.
Then, on a walk through the prairie last week, a real ornithologist explained the facts of life to me. It seems that the crest these guys carry on their wings, that impressively bright red gash that separates them from cowbirds and grackles and crows, a slash of abundant scarlet, an impressive fashion statement in swamp or woods or prairie, is, in fact, a come on. The bigger the crest, the heftier the female swoon. I'm not kidding. Apparently, in the animal world size matters.
Is that something God ordained?--that's what I'm wondering. And if He did, why? I mean, what had this scamp to do with the size of his crest? Nothing. I hate him--as would any junior high kid in his first locker room.
What's more, unlike their grassland cousins the dickcissles or any of dozens of other bird varieties, red-wingers, like recalcitrant Mormons, collect wives like trophies. What enables them to have, say, three or four per acre is the radiance of their display, the size of their crest. That's right. Sick.
So I'm out in the prairie on Saturday morning when I spot this guy. He was nice enough to let me take his picture, but my heart went out to him because it was clear by what you might call his "presentation" that he wasn't as thunderously outfitted as his obnoxious neighbors or that cousin of his who ruled the roost in Minnesota.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:46 AM