Growing up, The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare was my favorite story. Sure, it was set in New England, but the description of a vast lake surrounded by birdsong somehow felt familiar to me as a Clevelander. And the description of flashes of red dancing past as blackbirds flew by, it was immediately recognizable as a vivid painting of the stunning red-winged blackbird. There’s no shortage of red-winged blackbirds in Cleveland, as these birds are incredibly common around the Great Lakes. They love grassy areas, typically near wetlands or lakes, and they often fill the air with their distinct oak-a-leeee call. With a distinct throaty consonant followed by a musical slur, these gorgeous birds are instantly recognizable and a sure sign that summer has come.

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Each year, the presence of red-winged blackbirds in Cleveland causes the air to fill with a distinctly recognizable song. These lovely little birds are a welcome sight in the Cleveland Metroparks, around Lake Erie, and in fields throughout Northeast Ohio. Have you ever snapped a photo of one? We’d love to see your masterpieces in the comments! Oh, and if you’re looking to flaunt your love of the great outdoors, be sure to check out the Parks Project.

Love birding in Northeast Ohio? Mark your calendars for May, because the annual springtime migration will be here before you know it.

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