by Jim Burnham
In trying to rationalize the Orlando tragedy and the range of reaction from genuine sadness and regret to hard-line vitriol and gross acceptance of hate, I’ve come to the conclusion that humans, at their worst, can be downright horrible stewards of their own lives, much less the lives of other humans, and especially everything not human. Sometimes you need to step back and focus.
I was invited to a farm this past Sunday, not a farm with corn and soybeans, as is the norm out in Central Illinois, but of wildflowers. Here, there are over 30 acres, seeded end to end with native plants and tended by a small number of caring wards. I’ll have a story on that at another time.
All the green you see in the photo above is wildflowers. They will be blooming over the next few months. After the owner Mitch gave me a tour of the grounds, I went back to this path with my camera and watched a single Red Winged Blackbird.
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He flew away when I got close the first time, escaping to a tree on the edge of the garden. I knew he would come back because they nest on the ground and I was probably close. He eventually flew back and would sit for a minute in the young Goldenrod plants before making his way back to the tree.
He would continue this predictably, from tree to the Goldenrods and back to the tree, each time getting a little bit closer on his return. Sometimes, he would play hide and seek, alighting behind a thick milkweed leaf. Other times, he was just 15 feet away. At some point he just accepted that I wasn’t going to leave unless I got the picture I was looking for. So he jumped from stalk to stalk and ate some seeds. He posed and preened and sang. He had three different songs from what I could distinguish. He would do each in a different direction. One time to my right, then directly to me, then to my left. It seemed like he was playing to a crowd.
About 20 minutes in, I spotted a female Red Wing getting closer and calling out. When they got close together, they both flew up and back to the tree at the edge of the garden. I guess she had enough.
Here is a special song that says all there is to say.
RED WINGED BLACKBIRD – Words and Music: ©David Francey (1989)
 
 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road,
 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road.
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 He’ll be there beside the river,
 When Winter finally breaks its bones,
 He’ll be king among the rushes,
 He’ll be master of his home.
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 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road.
 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road.
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 Safe as Moses in the rushes,
 Builds his home on the river wide,
 Every time I hear him singing,
 Makes me feel like Spring inside.
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 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road.
 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged black bird down my road.
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 He’ll be in there singing his heart out,
 He’ll be telling me stories too,
 Of where he went to winter last year,
 Of how he’s going back there too.
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 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road,
 Thought I heard a red winged blackbird,
 Red winged blackbird down my road.
Ok honey, it’s time to go home now…say goodnight.
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