Thursday, June 25, 2009

Have No Fear

How watching the Red-winged Blackbird inspired a feeling of empowerment toward the ability we all possess in regards to facing a fear that seems bigger than ourselves ... and how I channeled that inspiration.

Familiar, abundant, beautiful and bold, all words that describe one of the most widespread and numerous birds in Illinois. If you live in Illinois you probably know what a red-winded blackbird looks like. They can be seen throughout spring, summer and fall near almost any body of water, marsh or swampland area, in open grasslands, fields or prairies.

When I first became interested in photographing birds, this was one of my first subjects to study and fall in love with. It was everywhere and in spring it was quite obvious when you were in their territory. While on a walk one spring afternoon, a loud ruckus and display from a pair of Red-winged blackbirds caused me to stop and look around. A keen eye, a safe distance and patience rewarded me with many interesting stories, great entertainment and field lessons on this bird. This is the bird that taught me to keep a respectful distance. My reward for learning this respect was being allowed to observe and photograph it's nesting habits.

I have recently become re-enthralled by the behavioral traits of this bountiful blackbird. I am sure that it's abundance is directly related to it's fearless disposition in addition to the fact that they raise two or three broods per nesting season. The Red-winged Blackbird will defend it's territory aggressively during the breeding season. They will fly after whatever they perceive as intruders in an extremely combative manner,while boldly displaying it's red-wing patches. These shoulder patches called "epaulets" are more visible in flight.

During the past few months I have watched and photographed this lionhearted bird unflinchingly go up against trespassers much much larger than itself. I watched it chase a red-tailed hawk for quite some time. It pecked at this large bird of prey and even used it's feet to pounce on the hawk's back. I was in awe. I watched a red-winged blackbird squawk at and make the hair on the back of an egret's neck stand up before forcing it to leave the swampland area it was defending. Made me laugh ... and made me think, an experience you can't buy. I was inspired by this bird's ability to face a challenge much larger than itself ... and thought about my friend Christal who wears an emblem of empowerment on her wrist in the form of a bracelet that says 'fearless'. This inspiration led me to a new addition to my card line. Give this card to someone that inspires you or needs inspiration. My line of inspirational cards showcase many of those empowering moments we experience daily. Check out my website at to see more inspirational cards in this line.

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