Red-winged Blackbird…

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Cool Facts

  • Different populations and subspecies of Red-winged Blackbirds vary markedly in size and proportions. An experiment was conducted that moved nestlings between populations and found that the chicks grew up to resemble their foster parents. This study indicated that much of the difference seen between populations is the result of different environments rather than different genetic makeups.

  • The Red-winged Blackbird is a highly polygynous species, meaning males have many female mates – up to 15 in some cases. In some populations 90 percent of territorial males have more than one female nesting on their territories. But all is not as it seems: one-quarter to one-half of nestlings turn out to have been sired by someone other than the territorial male.

  • Male Red-winged Blackbirds fiercely defend their territories during the breeding season, spending more than a quarter of daylight hours in territory defense. He chases other males out of the territory and attacks nest predators, sometimes going after much larger animals, including horses and people.

  • Red-winged Blackbirds roost in flocks in all months of the year. In summer small numbers roost in the wetlands where the birds breed. Winter flocks can be congregations of several million birds, including other blackbird species and starlings. Each morning the roosts spread out, traveling as far as 50 miles to feed, then re-forming at night.

  • One California subspecies of the Red-winged Blackbird lacks the yellow borders to the red shoulders (epaulets) and has been dubbed the “bicolored blackbird.” Some scientists think this plumage difference may help Red-winged Blackbirds recognize each other where their range overlaps with the similar Tricolored Blackbird.

  • The oldest recorded Red-winged Blackbird was 15 years 9 months old.

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7 comments on “Red-winged Blackbird…

  1. neihtn2012 says:

    This bird is difficult to photograph, at least for me, and you have succeeded in capturing marvelous photos of it.

  2. Margaret says:

    Beautiful series of images.

  3. Marie-AZ says:

    Fascinating birds! Great info, and such beautiful photos. I knew I always liked them, and now knowing more about them, I love them! Thanks so much for a great post!

  4. Chris Rohrer says:

    Their call always reminds me of my childhood. I love them. Really nice series of pics!

  5. These are great photos and info Erin. I have them here, but did not know all that info. I can hear a male calling now…Michelle

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