Here is the Report From The Back 40 – Black Birds and Murmurations.
The blackbirds, red-winged and otherwise, are out in force today in flocks all over the area. They fly in swarms and alight for a moment in a tree or a grove only to arise once more into the air. I have always been captivated by their swarming behavior, especially their evening routine over the marshes due south of The Back 40. One can sit at dusk and watch for a good thirty minutes at a seeming never-ending dancing trail of blackbirds, starlings, and assorted other smallish-sized birds as they flock from the far woods to inspect, assess, reassess, and then finally come to rest deep down onto the marsh ground in between the bases of cattails and rushes. They spend the night as a community and no doubt keep each other warm in the process.
The red-wing blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) and their cousins are most definitely community-minded creatures. ‘Birds of a feather flock together’ and these birds have a remarkable ability to fly in the most mesmerizing murmurations. Groups of 10,000+ birds amass and fly with what appears to be a kind of group conscious, profound to my eyes. They spread out on their way to nightly rest, coming for miles around. It looks to be a cast of millions really. They fly at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour in these undulating waves, moving this way and that, turning in an instant by the merest perturbation in their communal aerial acrobatics, say for instance, a predatory falcon showing up in their midst. Here’s the thing that has me in wide-eyed wonder: they are spaced in such dense groups that the space between them may only be slightly more than their body length, yet they make incredibly sharp turns in what looks like perfect synchrony. I never tire of watching their antics. They will rest for a moment in the cattails as a large group, and then something spurs them off into the air again to continue their dance a bit longer, until finally, in groups of maybe 50 to 100, they settle at last into the marshes for their winter sleep. Let me not forget to mention the riotous singing that accompanies all of this flying around. This is a spectacle that for some reason I see in the winters here, but not so much the rest of the year.
Black Bird Medicine beckons you to claim your talents and share them with the world. Black birds keep themselves well-hidden and undercover at night, necessitating a finely-tuned eye indeed to find them at all. As such, black birds symbolize the unknown and intuition. As a spiritual totem, the black bird imparts a highly-developed awareness and perceptive abilities., and helps one to awaken creative gifts in themselves and in others.
I feel a kind of strange kinship with these birds, as if the fate of my lineage and theirs was linked somehow. When I spend time gazing at these flocks, I feel a sense of the familiar, like I have come home at last. They seem to bid me welcome on their way to bidding the day adieu. What’s up in your neck of the woods?
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