Yesterday as I walked into our kitchen to fix lunch, I saw over thirty robins in our yard and near the barn, but I needed to see a red-winged blackbird to know that spring was getting close. My friend Susan had gotten a picture of one yesterday at her house, but I hadn't seen a trace of one on our hill. This morning as I set out down our hill for a walk with Terra I suddenly realized that I was hearing red-winged blackbirds from all directions. They have a unique rusty, creaky call that has always sounded to me like one of those wind-up alarm clocks we used to have when you don't turn off the alarm and it gradually moves from a bell ringing to an unharmonious winding down.
Finally I saw one at the top of a tree near our pond, singing his heart out with the red on his shoulders clearly visible in case any females are in the neighborhood. Spring is on its way!