One of the most abundant birds across North America, and one of the most boldly colored, the Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar sight atop cattails, along soggy roadsides, and on telephone wires.
Red-winged blackbirds symbolize good luck, protection, prosperity, and guardian angels looking over you.
Red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which has provisions against take.
Anna Pidgeon, an avian ecologist and University of Wisconsin-Madison professor, said the aggressive behavior is normal during the warmer months, calling it the “red-winged blackbird annual saga.” She said peak attack season is usually in mid-June, when the red-winged blackbirds are busy protecting their nests.
Breeds in marshes, brushy swamps, hayfields; forages also in cultivated land and along edges of water. Breeds most commonly in freshwater marsh, but also in wooded or brushy swamps, rank weedy fields, hayfields, upper edges of salt marsh.
Where do Red-winged blackbirds migrate to? California and Mexico are popular winter destinations for migratory Red-winged blackbirds traveling from Canada and the northern U.S. Other states that have large visiting populations in winter months include Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina.
Red-winged Blackbirds eat seeds, insects and even suet from your bird feeders. If you live near water and want to attract Red-winged Blackbirds, offer seeds and suet in early spring and late fall. Seeing Red-winged Blackbirds eating at your bird feeders is a real treat for birdwatchers.
They’re an even glossy black with red-and-yellow shoulder badges. Females are crisply streaked and dark brownish overall, paler on the breast and often show a whitish eyebrow. Male Red-winged Blackbirds do everything they can to get noticed, sitting on high perches and belting out their conk-la-ree! song all day long.
Try enclosing the feeders with large-mesh hardware cloth or chicken wire with openings big enough to allow smaller birds to pass through (a 2-inch opening should do). This will exclude the large birds and help you get rid of the grackles and blackbirds.
Red-winged blackbirds eat mostly seeds, grains, berries and wild fruit and in summer will also eat insects, caterpillars, grubs, spiders, mollusks and snails. They are able to walk, run or hop while foraging on the ground.
Red-winged Blackbirds build their nests low among vertical shoots of marsh vegetation, shrubs, or trees. Females choose the nest site with some input from the male.
During the breeding season, Red-winged Blackbirds eat mostly insects, including dragonflies, damselflies, beetles, butterflies and moths. In the winter, they switch to mostly to seeds and grains. Red-winged Blackbirds will often declare war on the Marsh Wrens in their territory. Both species will eat the others’ eggs.
Try hanging mylar balloons filled with helium so they’re floating about wherever the starlings get access. The unpredictable movements of helium balloons and the shininess of mylar often drive birds away.
The red-winged blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown.Red-winged blackbird.
|colspan=“2”>Red-winged blackbird Temporal range:|
|colspan=“2”>Agelaius phoeniceus (Linnaeus, 1766)|
Crows, ravens, and blackbirds are all members of the same order, but crows and ravens are in a different family than are blackbirds.
Red-winged Blackbirds in northern North America winter in the southern United States, as far as about 800 miles from their breeding ranges. Southern and some western populations don’t migrate at all.
A group of blackbirds has many collective nouns, including a “cloud”, “cluster”, and “merl” of blackbirds.
Adult Red-winged Blackbirds are eaten by the Gopher Snake and other snakes. They are also eaten by the Red-tailed Hawk and other hawks. Predators of their eggs and young include snakes such as the California King Snake, raccoons, skunks, and other small mammals.
Male red-winged blackbirds consume approximately 25 g sunflower seed per day (G.
Red-winged Blackbirds make their homes on Cattails, and, ducks, frogs, salamanders, and countless insects also rely on the plants for habitat, protection, and a safe place to lay their eggs.
I first tried safflower seeds in my feeders not to attract birds, but to repel them. Flocks of Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds were draining my feeders of black oil sunflower seed and making it tough for other species to shoulder their way in for food.
They also eat mosquitoes, which makes them popular with birders and other outdoor enthusiasts. So in this late winter/early spring time of the year, enjoy the song of the male red-winged blackbird when you can, and remember: Spring is on its way!
You may see them in early spring at your feeders. Red-winged Blackbirds are polgynous, averaging 3 mates per breeding season. The breeding season can start as early as Feburary and go through to August depending on location with the peak being mid May to July.
It is good luck if a blackbird makes a nest on your house. If you see 5 crows, sickness will follow; see 6 crows and death will follow.