Blackbird fly, blackbird fly

Don’t be fooled by the elegant scarlet epaulets and the cheery trill of oak-a-leee, oak-a-leee. Red-winged blackbirds will kill you just as soon as look at you. I am ashamed of my own naïveté, really. I thought that if I loved and respected nature, it would return the favor in kind. But you’d think I would have learned by now, because once when I was just eight years old, I was wading in Lincoln Lagoon looking for frogs when a giant carp swam up and sucked on my toe. No child should ever have to go through that. No one should.
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This time, all I wanted to do was take some photos of cattails and butterflies by the pond. How was I to know that red-winged blackbirds like to make their nests in such prime real-estate? All along the pond I walked, no matter where I went, they followed. First it was just the lookout bird who squawked at me from high atop his willow perch.
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“Oh, hello friend! You’re looking handsome today. Don’t mind me. I’m just here looking for frogs and flowers. Good day!”
“Tseer! Tseer!”
I walked closer to the water and came upon an enormous frog. As I carefully pushed aside the tall grass to get a better view, I saw some fluttering out of the corner of my eye.
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“Tseer! Tseer!”
“Hello again! I see you’ve brought a friend this time. Is that your wife? What a lovely speckled breast she has. Oh… goodness! So there are four of you. Nice that you all stick together like that. Well, I think I spy a fancy butterfly over there, so I’ll bid you adieu.”
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Within seconds, another two birds appeared from out of the weeds, screeching in unison.
As I walked over toward the butterflies, one of the male blackbirds flew over my head and followed me for several yards.
“I’m sorry, kind sir. There seems to be some misunderstanding. It’s clear to me now that you must have a nest around here, but I can assure you that I have no interest in your babies. As I love and respect all of god’s creatures, I will take only photos, and leave nothing but footprints.”
It was at this point that the leader called in the infantry. Five male blackbirds began flying overhead in a sort of Blue Angels formation, criss-crossing each other in the air and diving closer and closer to my head. The three females remained close to the pond and just shrieked repeatedly. I backed away from the water and briskly walked toward the safety of a large tree.
This sudden hostility puzzled me. Didn’t they understand who I was? Back in my environmentally conscious college years – long before Al Gore invented global warming – I was a card-carrying member of the Nature Conservancy. My regular donations were likely responsible for protecting that very stretch of marsh. Had it not been for me and my giving nature, those red-winged blackbirds would have been building their nests inside a FedEx/Kinko’s next to the color copiers.
“Tseer! Tseer! Tseer! Tseer!”
“Look – I’m not even close to the water now! And I don’t want your stupid bald babies!”
As I left the shelter of the tree, I had another near collision with the bird. This time, I began to take it personally.
“Just so you know? I could totally eat all your babies if I wanted to. Every last one of them! I’m like, 100 times bigger than you! I could just walk up and grab them, and there’s not a damn thing you could do about it. Stupid red-winged blackbirds.”
“Tseer! Tseer! Tseer!”
“Hey here’s an idea: how ‘bout next time you don’t build your nests 10 feet away from a frickin’ high-traffic bike trail? How’s that sound? Morons. Oh, and how’d you like a punch in the throat while we’re at it?”
I was determined not to be bullied by these birds when I was clearly not doing anything wrong. I came there for flower photos, and by god I was going to leave there with flower photos.
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“DAMMIT!! Leave me alone, you ungrateful motherf- oh shit!”
As I turned to step away from the thistle, I almost walked right into the Kamikaze attack. I was sure I felt feathers touch my hair this time. I clutched my camera to my chest with one hand, then ducked and ran toward the sidewalk, swatting at the birds with my free hand. I quickly ran past an older couple on a tandem bike while muttering something to the effect of, “…pop you in the eye so hard your head will spin…”
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That bird is just lucky I love and respect nature so much. Plus, I’ll bet his babies would have tasted like crap anyway.

18 Responses to “Blackbird fly, blackbird fly”

  1. brandon Says:

    did you take these photos! cause you might qualify for Birder of the Week at my Audubon Society! That bird looks like it is a TRICOLORED BLACKBIRD and not as you’ve said a RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD. you might have taken the first photo of a tricolored blackbird out of its range in history. all the birders would make the traditional DISTRESS CALL in your honor. i got my feathers all ruffled just thinking about it.
    still, to be sure, you’ll need to capture the bird, and examine its cloaca.

  2. jenny Says:

    brandon: i never examine a cloaca on a first date, unless there’s box wine involved. but sadly, i’m pretty sure it was just a plain old red-winged blackbird. i’ll never become famous at this rate.

  3. Geeky Tai-Tai Says:

    Those photos are beautiful! Thank you for risking life and limb to get them.

  4. adena Says:

    One of my jobs I worked near a window that looked out onto the parking lot.
    In that parking lot was dividers that housed trees.
    In one of those trees a bird had built a nest.
    This bird was VERY territorial.
    Let me just say how amusing it was to watch people park their cars, and innocently walk next to said tree on the way into the building.
    Much screaming and flailing of arms ensued.
    It was a very entertaining month, or so.

  5. sween Says:

    Seriously. More posts need to include threats of punching birds in the throat.

  6. jenny Says:

    geeky tai-tai: if i have to die doing what i love – sharing nature’s beauty with others – then i will have lived a full life.
    adena: i suspect that i was pretty entertaining to all the bikers who were riding by, as well!
    sween: amen to that. sometimes you just need to show ‘em who’s boss.

  7. RW Says:

    And what were they doing hanging around the neighborhood in the middle of that day!? Why weren’t they off WORKING for a living like everyone else instead of gangbanging in the hood!?
    Bah. What do you expect from them.

  8. Strode Says:

    “And I don’t want your stupid bald babies” made my coffee come out of my nose. My cube mate is laughing at me now. You brightened her day without knowing it.

  9. You can call me, 'Sir' Says:

    Next time, wear the rabbit head. They’ll think you’re nothing more than a giant pants-wearing rabbit who knows how to work a camera. And, seriously, what possible harm could a giant rabbit do? (‘Donnie Darko’ fans are hyperventilating at the thought)

  10. You can call me, 'Sir' Says:

    Next time, wear the rabbit head. They’ll think you’re nothing more than a giant pants-wearing rabbit who knows how to work a camera. And, seriously, what possible harm could a giant rabbit do? (‘Donnie Darko’ fans are hyperventilating at the thought)

  11. Rhea Says:

    Jen, this was hilarious! I see red-wing blackbirds all the time when I walk my dog in the local arboretum. I will never be able to think about them in the same way again.

  12. Tracy Lynn Says:

    Dude, have you learned NOTHING from Tippi Hedren? Birds Are Not To Be Trusted!

  13. Jennie Says:

    This made me laugh so hard I almost passed out. Which could have been hard to explain to my boss, but whatever.

  14. shari Says:

    This just goes to poignantly illustrate the value of music eduation in schools. I bet if you had only known all the words to “Bye Bye Blackbird” and sung it at the top of your lungs, you could have avoided all that pain and agony.

  15. jenny Says:

    RW: well, in their defense, it was a weekend. but still – not like they were out mowing the lawn or anything.
    strode: ha! but really… sorry about your nose. :)
    sir: yes, but then the old couple on the bike might attack me. it’s really a lose-lose.
    rhea: i suggest you start carrying a small billy club with you on your walks. they’re vicious!
    tracy lynn: i know, i know. you’d think i would’ve learned my lesson…
    jennie: just tell your boss that you passed out from too much work. workman’s comp!
    shari: i tried singing blackbird to them, but i guess they just hate the beatles. bastards.

  16. Roy Says:

    I’m freakin’ out, man, because that *IS* an endangered tri-colored black bird, and you were going to punch it in the throat. Why don’t you just stuff a dodo for Thanksgiving?

  17. jenny Says:

    roy: wanna know why they’re endangered? ’cause they’re always talking smack when they should be mindin’ their own bizness. and i prefer my dodos grilled, not stuffed.

  18. Bobby Says:

    At least it wasn’t bats…
    …with rabies

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