Welcome to the first full day of winter on the North American continent. Yesterday was the Winter Solstice- the day of the year with the least amount of daylight. Today marks the slow lengthening of daylight hours as the earth’s Northern Hemisphere tilts back towards the sun. It’s not always apparent when these things are happening unless you are marking shadows on rocks like the ancient people of North America did. Growing up I didn’t mark shadows on rocks but I could always tell winter was just around the corner when I stepped outside on a certain morning and the yard was full of red-winged blackbirds. The birds used the fields and pastures around the house as a stopover on their annual migration from Canada to Central America for the winter. Thousands of them covered the yard and fields around the house. They would spend the morning swooping from the trees down to the ground and back up to the trees again. They brought a full appearance back to the trees that had lost their leaves weeks earlier. The birds sounded if they were squawking and bickering at one another as they walked across the ground pecking at seeds. And then by some unseen and unheard single they would all take flight, a mass of black bird moving through the air as one big bird-bubble. One morning last week I walked out and found the old birds filling the yard. I noticed they didn’t number in the thousands as I remember from years ago but there were enough that I wanted to lift my camera and make a photo. Perhaps I'll have a chance to make another photo of the old birds in March when they head back north on the Spring migration.
Michael E. Palmer is a writer and photographer based in Alabama.
He can be reached at email@example.com