With hints of spring beginning to emerge and hopeful eyes scanning for buds and blooms, Mike Perrin, MLT volunteer and Franklin resident, has been admiring a less colorful, but equally as exciting, sign of spring: blackbirds, specifically, the Red-winged Blackbird. Contrary to popular belief, red-winged blackbirds often do not migrate south for the winter, and instead silently occupy the tall, mysterious reeds of frozen marshes and wetlands. Even though these birds will roost in groups of sometimes hundreds, the flocks are rarely observed due to their surprisingly quiet behavior. In the past few days, male blackbirds have broken this silence, one of the first signs of warmer weather ahead. Singing atop high perches, male blackbirds claim territory in wetlands, ponds, streams, and farm fields. “Conqueror-ee!!… Conqueror-ee!!” can be heard incessantly throughout the spring and summer in these habitats. At our Franklin Woods Preserve, Mike has seen dozens of blackbirds utilizing bare branches on snags, or dead trees, as perches to deliver their deafening song. Have you noticed this nod to spring yet for yourself?