Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

Type of Animal:

Marshes, watercourses, water hazards on golf courses, wet roadsides, meadows, fields, feedlots, pastures, swamps, cultivated land, water edges, open mudflats, agricultural areas, prairies, bogs, wetlands, suburban areas, plantations, alfalfa/hay areas, rice paddies, grassland, sparse/light deciduous forest, wooded areas along waterways, oil fields, open patches in woodlands, roadside ditches, edge of secondary growth, urban parks

Found in North America, Mexico, parts of Central America, & W Cuba

Males black to glossy black w/ distinct red & yellow shoulder patches on wings & black bill. Females crispy streaked & dark brownish being paler on the breast & lighter colored bills, some females have subdued reddish or rusty tinges on shoulder. Both sexes have sharply pointed bills & rounded tails. Nonbreeding males have rusty feather edges and/or incomplete red shoulder patches w/ more noticeable yellow. Many breeding males also have nonbreeding coloration in winter. Many males more streaky black in winter. Male birds in parts of California & N Mexico lack yellow border, only having red on shoulder patches.

Seeds, grains, corn, suet, insects, grubs, snails, millipedes, spiders, worms, fruit, berries, nuts, eggs, young birds, frogs, carrion, mussels, crayfish, lizards

Status in Wild:

Some protections from Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Flocks range from 25-2,000,000 birds. Larger flocks occur outside of breeding/nesting season. Males territorial during breeding/nesting season, guarding 1-15 females. Though territorial, males often nest in close proximity to each other & loose colonies are not uncommon, w/ some numbering thousands of birds.

Additional Info:

Male: Cock
Female: Hen
Young: Chick
Group: Flock

Male: 2.3-2.5 oz
Female: 1.46 oz

2 weeks

Life Span:
2-12 years

Male: 8.7-9.4 in
Female: 6.7-7.1 in

Body Length:
Male: 8.7-9.4 in
Female: 6.7-7.1 in

Tail Length:
Male: 4.3 in
Female: 2.4 in

Main predators of adults are raptors, raccoons, snakes, skunks, cats, dogs, coyotes, foxes, bears, crocodilians, mink, weasels, otters, corvids, & shrikes. Marsh wrens prey on young chicks.

As many as 3 broods can hatch in single breeding season, w/ each brood having 2-4 chicks.

Chicks fledge at 2-3 weeks but stay w/ parents for a little while longer.

Sexual maturity reached at 10-12 months old, w/ females maturing before males.

When singing to defend territory and/or attract female, male fluffs red patches & half-spreads wings displaying red & yellow feathers.

Males known for raspy calls & these calls often seen as sign of spring.

These birds are some of the most common & abundant birds in North America.

Fun Fact(s):
These birds can cause an estimated $150,000,000 per year in crop damage due to feeding habits & flock size. 

While crop pests, these birds can be beneficial since they eat invertebrate crop pests.

These birds often bully & displace smaller birds at bird feeders.

Males can be aggressive during breeding/nesting season, even dive-bombing people.

These birds will mob predators much larger than themselves.

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