Redwinged blackbirds have a special place in my personal iconography.
Someone close to me suffered a scalp laceration in high school that was subsequently treated with peroxide...and if you've ever seen badly bleached brunette hair, you know that it can turn a spectrum of color between orange and bright yellow, much like the aforementioned bird's wing. It's visible in his senior picture, long lost in my high school scrapbook, although I'm not likely to forget it anyway.
There were redwinged blackbirds on our farm, which is northwest of the town where I grew up. I loved seeing them, and I've blogged before about my excitement at discovering a tiny colony of these marsh-dwellers in a drainage plain in the town where I now live. I attribute this esoteric attachment to certain regional wildlife to my awkward relationship with my father, whose first inclination was zoology, not medicine. I could always sit still for his full academic descriptions of the local flora and fauna, when other children probably wouldn't have.
Now the blackbirds are dying, by the thousands. They just dropped out of the sky a few days ago in a big clump, victims of what's been described in the press as blunt force trauma. A second smaller kill of both redwinged blackbirds and grackles happened a few days later in the Western Coalfield region of Kentucky. It depresses me.
I have found and lost the blackbirds so many times. I know it would be easier if I didn't care so much about them, the avian and the human.