Posted By Zoey T. Posted On

His Bright Red Shoulder Patches Create A Dizzying Array Of Color, Contrasting Beautifully Against His Glossy Black Plumage. Especially When On The Wing!

His bright red and yellow shoulder patches pop that much more when seen against his glossy black plumage!

“Red-winged Blackbird (m)” (cropped) by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus), is a passerine bird of the Icteridae family. This bird gets his name from the highly distinctive red shoulder patches, or epaulets the male has, which are more visible when flying or displaying. While taking a break he also shows pale yellow wing bars. The rest of his plumage, bill, and legs, is glossy black.

“Red-winged Blackbird (f)” by Becky Matsubara is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Females are dark brown overall with crisp streaks, paler on the breast with whitish eyebrows.

Males less than one year of age, are smaller and more orange than adults.

“Courtship Display, Red-Winged Blackbird” (cropped) by Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

The Red-winged Blackbird can be found living from southern Alaska to the Yucatan peninsula, and from the western coast of California, and Canada, to the east coast of the American continent.

“Red-wing Blackbird (agelaius phoenicus)” by dobak is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Red-winged Blackbirds like to live in fresh and saltwater marshes, beside watercourses, water hazards on golf courses, alongside wet roadsides, as well as meadows and fields. During winter they can be found in crop fields, feedlots, and pastures.

“Red-winged Blackbird” by USFWS Malheur is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

An omnivorous bird, Red-winged Blackbirds dine primarily on plant material, such as weeds, seeds, insects, and other small animals.

“Male Red-winged Blackbird” by USFWS Mountain Prairie is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

During the breeding season, nests are built in cattails, rushes, grasses, sedges, or in alder, and willow bushes. Built entirely by the female of grasses, sedges, and mosses, lined with mud, and bound to surrounding grasses, or branches, it takes her three to six days to finish construction. She then lays a clutch of 3 – 6 eggs, which she incubates for 11 -12 days. The chicks are fully-fledged and ready to leave that nest after 11 -14 days.

“Red-winged blackbird nest” by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Midwest Region is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Being one of the most widely, and successful birds in North America unsurprisingly little has been done to protect it from the effects of habitat destruction and urbanization. Able to survive in a wide range of environments, they seem to be able to overcome the loss of natural habitats. This being the case this bird is of least concern on the ICUN list.

 U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service – Northeast Region is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.