Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds are found throughout the United States and much of Canada.  They are roughly the same size as a Robin.  RwB have black plumage with a red patch bordered in yellow on each shoulder.  The plumage of the female RwB is brown with lighter streaks and a hint of red on each shoulder.

In early spring, the males fly to their breeding grounds to stake out a territory.  A couple weeks later, the females arrive.  Typically, one male attracts three females to his territory.

Favored habitats of the Red-winged Blackbird are ponds, open fields, marches, shorelines.  The female builds a nest in thick vegetation, in shrubs or among reeds and grasses.  She weaves grasses to make the nest, located about 3-8 feet off the ground.

The female does all the incubation and most of the nestling feeding.  Once the youngsters are fledged the male helps out with feeding.  RwB eat bugs, seeds and plants, especially aquatic plants.

Both parents guard the nest and surrounding area.  They can be quite aggressive about it too, as anyone who has ever wandered remotely near a RwB nest can attest.  Their main predators are Crows.  Sometimes males will join forces to chase away a Crow.

Some Red-wing Blackbird Facts

-  broods per year (females):  1

-  eggs per brood:  3-5

-  incubation:  11 days

-  nestling: 11 days

-  fledgling:  7-10 days

-  length:  7-9.5 inches

-  wingspan:  12-15.5 inches

Around September the birds molt.  Around October large flocks gather, usually segregated by sex,  sometimes along with Grackles and Cowbirds, fly south to their winter territory.

A Red-winged Blackbird dive bombing your head is worth two in a bush.


  1. They sound quite beautiful.
    Lucky you to have them in your garden.

    cheers, parsnip

  2. Anytime now they'll start diving at anyone walking by their nest.

  3. Two of them had a nest in a tree in front of a hotel here. They were on the local news, attacking hotel guests!

  4. I probably mix them up with crows. We also have red-tailed hawk around here.