Red-Winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Male red-winged blackbird on branch
Male Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) are sexually dimorphic birds. The males are black with one thick red and one thin yellow stripe on the shoulder area both wings, whereas the females are brownish and streaked, similar in color to song sparrows. The photo below is of a female red-winged blackbird. Immature males have coloring similar to the females but may have the striped wings.

female red-winged blackbird
Female Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-winged blackbirds are common North American birds and are seen through the US and parts of Canada. During the winter, they often migrate to Southern states. They usually gather in large flocks. They prefer marshes and fields but are also seen in backyards, especially if there is a bird feeder present.

Below is a photo of a red-winged blackbird nest with eggs. Like many other wild birds, red-winged black bird nests are often subject to brown-headed cowbird nest parasitism. This is what happens: the female cowbird will wait until after the host nest female lays her own eggs. Then when the host nest female leaves for a time the female cowbird will lay her own eggs into the nest. Then, the female red-winged blackbird will come back and take care of the cowbird eggs and young along with her own eggs and young.

The reason this is a problem is because there may not be enough food to go around for all of the young.

red-winged blackbird nest with eggs
Red-Winged Blackbird Nest with Eggs

Click the sound image below to hear the red-winged black bird song:
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Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

2010 Mystery Involving Red-Winged Black Birds

Strangely, thousands of red-winged blackbirds fell dead from the sky in several separate incidents beginning on New Years Eve 2010. Click here for more info: Red-Winged Blackbird Mystery.