Red-winged Blackbird

Agelaius phoeniceus

Red-winged Blackbirds are one of our most recognizable birds; at least the males are.

Both males and females grow to almost 10 inches, but males are black with bright red shoulder patches. Small yellow stripes border the red. Females are very plain brown with streaks.

Red-winged Blackbirds are most common in marshes and swamps, but you will also see them in fields and meadows.

In the Fall, blackbirds will form flocks of thousands, along with birds of other species. These flocks will fly around making great noise as they feed.

Red-winged Blackbirds are most commonly seen perching on cattails during the breeding season.

Copyright, Peter LaTourrette, http://birdphotography.com

Copyright, David Blevins

 

The breeding season for Red-winged Blackbirds goes from February to August. Males have territories which they guard from other males. To court females, male blackbirds chase them. Sometimes, several males chase one female at the same time.

When a pair of blackbirds is matched up, they will build a nest. Nests are cup-shaped and made of marsh grasses or reeds attached to cattails or rushes. Sometimes they will build it in a shrub. Each pair of blackbirds will raise two or three broods in a season, building a new nest each time. This probably keeps nests from getting infested with parasites which could kill baby birds.

Three to five pale blue eggs are laid in a nest. Eggs are spotted with brown or purple.

Peter Weber, www.wildbirdphotos.com

Red-winged Blackbirds eat mostly insects, including dragonflies, damselflies, other flies, beetles, butterflies, and moths, as well as other invertebrates, such as spiders. They catch insects on plants, off the ground, and from the air. In the winter, they switch to mostly grains.

Red-winged Blackbirds often war with Marsh Wrens who share the same territiories and food supply. Both species will eat each other's eggs.

Other predators of blackbirds include Raccoons, snakes, crows, owls, hawks, and Red Foxes.

Some parasites of Red-winged Blackbirds include blood-sucking flies, lice, and mites.

When breeding season is over, Red-winged Blackbirds join enormous flocks, often mixed with Grackles, European Starlings, and Cowbirds. The flocks fly in great numbers, searching for food.

Copyright, John White

Additional Media

Description
Type
Credit
Red-winged Blackbird Song
Sound
www.naturesongs.com
Red-winged Blackbird Warning Call
Sound
www.naturesongs.com
Red-winged Blackbird Flock
Sound
www.naturesongs.com
Red-winged Blackbird
Video
Unknown
Download Quicktime if you are unable to play video.

Relationships in Nature:

PREY/FOOD
PREDATORS
SHELTER
OTHER

Green Darner

Raccoon

Common Cattail

Marsh Wren EC

Asian Tiger Mosquito

Red Fox

Red Maple

Common Grackle Mu

Eastern Black Swallowtail

Great Horned Owl

Sivler Maple

European Starling Mu

European Gypsy Moth

Barred Owl

Common Reed

Brown-headed Cowbird Mu

Rabid Wolf Spider

Red-tailed Hawk

Switchgrass

American Robin Mu

Goldenrod Gall Fly

Marsh Wren

Marsh Bulrush

Chigger Pa

Switchgrass

Black Rat Snake

Wild Rice

Eastern Dobsonfly

Copperhead

Evergreen Blackberry

Common Crow

Eastern Tent Caterpillar Moth

Field Cricket

Common Black Ground Beetle

Daring Jumping Spider

Crane Fly

Garden Centipede

Dogday Harvestfly

Chinese Mantid

Wild Rice

Painted Lady

Buffalo Treehopper

Relationship to Humans:

Red-winged Blackbirds help people by controlling insect populations. Their song is also considered very pleasant to listen to by many people. Others consider them a pest; when they are in great flocks they can disturb farms.

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

KINGDOM
Animal
PHYLUM
Chordate
CLASS
Birds
ORDER
Passeriformes
FAMILY
Icteridae
GENUS
Agelaius
SPECIES
Agelaius phoeniceus

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