Red-Winged Black Birds


Winter’s company
of birds
seems set
three (could there be four?) Eastern Bluebirds,
a House Finch (could there be two?),
a lone Robin (I think it was sick at the time
the rest of the flock flew south),
two Chickadees,
two pair of Cardinals,
more than one Bluejay (though I only see
one at a time at the feeders),
two Red-Bellied Woodpeckers
(though I rarely see them at the same time),
maybe four, maybe more, Goldfinches
(I think the gray cat,
who caught several,
scared some away),
a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker
(who shows itself rarely),
a Mockingbird,
three pair (at least)
of Eurasian-Collared Doves,
several Meadowlarks,
many Sparrows
(Harris, White-Crowned, House)
and many more (I’ve counted 60)
Red-Winged Blackbirds.

I love to see the Red-Winged Blackbirds
in flight. They move as one
and disappear for an instant
when they turn
in the sunlight.
I love to see the flashes of red
in shiny black.
I love to see the shadows
as they fly over the house.
I love to hear them atop
the trees in the hedgerow
to the north.
I know they need food
and I want them to be healthy
and do their good work
as part of the great Web of Life.
But they eat so much
of the seed
at the feeders
under the Hackberry tree,
that I have to remember
to let the birds in this community
work it out.
I put up feeders
for the little birds
and that helps.
I put out two bowls
of water,
and that helps.
I try to put out seed
on the groundfor the other ground-feeders
when the RWBBs
seem to be elsewhere.
I think it helps.

I have observed
that when I see two little Bluebirds
sitting on the higher water bath,
a thrill runs through my heart.
When I catch a glimpse
of rose on a slight bird,
I know it is the House Finch
and I can’t help
but be happy.
When Goldfinches gather
round the thistle feeder,
I am at ease.
And when little Chickadee
grabs a seed
and flies up into the branches,
I remember
my Grandmother’s delight
in providing for and seeing
“her” Chickadees.

There must be something about us humans
that calls us to
appreciate beauty,
little ones
and causes us to want
to shoo away
the ones,
no matter how beautiful they are,
who take so much
of the food;
to find a way
for every one
to have