Wednesday, February 23, 2011

What do red winged blackbirds mean?

A flock of red winged blackbirds landed at our bird feeders the other day. There were about a dozen of them. I had never seen any of them on our property before. Nor had I ever seen more than two of them at a time. They stayed for ten minutes. Shortly after they departed a large brown and white hawk swooped by at feeder level, but finding nothing to claim its attention, it just kept right on going.

It is February so the birds had their drab winter coloration -- in this case faded yellow stripes on their shoulders with nearly invisible red beneath. Their normal habitat is around cattail marshes, which is where I have seen them alongside a pond in a public park near our home --about one half mile away.

It had snowed several inches that morning so activity at the feeders was high due to the difficulty of acquiring their normal, natural sustenance. So there probably is a logical explanation for the presence of the red wings and the raptors. But I just finished reading "Cleopatra" by Stacy Schiff, and thoughts of Caesar, the ides of March, and avian omens are floating in the back of my mind. I've also read "The da Vinci Code". When it comes to suspicious symbolism you just cannot be too careful.

I asked the Internet "What do red winged blackbirds mean?" responded "they mean there is danger ahead" - just like Caesar and the black crow he saw on his last day as emperor. I really don't have time for "danger" at the moment so I decided to believe that all of this dark symbolism foretold the coming of the marauding hawk. And I continued my search for a more propitious prognostication on the Internet at and

"It is one of the most abundant birds in North America. They are polygumous, [sic] and one male can have 15 different females making up its nesting territory."

Instead of a Hitchcockian movie scene, maybe what visited us were a male and his harem out on the town. Nothing to worry about there.

"When resting the blackbird is frequently seen stretching, legs extended back, side wings in full extension, tail spread, and the head tilted to one side as if listening. Yoga and movement therapy are beneficial for those that hold this totem."

That makes sense. I have been taking Pilates classes at my health club.

"When blackbird flies into your life your connection with nature and the forces of creation increase. The magic of the underworld surfaces in your life. Awareness is heightened and change on a cellular level begins. The blackbird teaches you how to acknowledge your power and use it to its fullest."

Like when I shoveled the snow that morning.

"Blackbirds are known for fiercely staking out their own territory, and they will often drive off any other of their kind that are in the vicinity. Because of this, the sight of two blackbirds sitting together is often considered a good omen. In Europe, blackbirds came to be associated with St. Kevin, and one story tells of how they nested in his hand. Again because of this association, to have blackbirds nesting in your environment is usually a beneficial sign."

In other words - NO DANGER AHEAD. I knew if I looked long enough...

"The male red-winged blackbird will lose its luster during the winter. This reflects how the summer is the time of vibrancy and vitality for those with this bird as a totem. It indicates the need to use the winter to go back into the great womb of life in order to be able to bring forth new energy and expressions of energy the following summer."

This whole symbology thing is really tiring. Maybe I should just take a nap.

1 comment:

Carlos Rosa said...

Yesterday after my jog at the park, I saw this bird. I suddenly had this urge of ideas before reaching the car. I can say that it has some of the magical symbolic qualities youve listed.