Red-winged Blackbirds (also known as Agelaius phoeniceus) are often mistaken as generic blackbirds until you get that gorgeous glimpse of the red streak on their wings. These unique birds are among the most common birds in North America.
Where can you find Red-winged Blackbirds? They can be sighted perched atop cattails, wet, soggy roadsides, and on telephone poles. After a rain… you can find the whole flock moving from yard to yard in search of grubs and worms. In the northern states, if you see the bright splash of red and yellow on these stunning birds, you are sure to know that spring has returned!
Size and Color:
Red-winged blackbirds are broad shouldered and quite stocky. Their bill is conical shaped and their tail is of medium length. When perched, you may see a “hump” on their back in silhouette. You can tell how confident the bird is in his/her surrounding by whether they are flashing their colored wings.
How can I tell the males from the females? The red and yellow “badges” are bright and vibrant on the male. Their body is glossy black in the sunlight. The females are browner in appearance and have a pale breast. You may also spot a white “eyebrow” on a female which is absent on the male.
Did you know that the oldest recorded Red-winged Blackbird was 15 years 9 months old?
Feeding and Food:
Hands down, Red-wings prefer to much on insects and seeds. Their favorites include beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and worms. They also eat spiders, millipedes and snails. If you want to attract these flashy birds to your backyard, be sure to have plenty of seeds and grain. The also LOVE suet, berries, and small fruit in the winter and during migration. Click HERE to see what kinds of suet they prefer.
Red-winged Blackbirds are not known to pair bond or be mated for life. As a matter of fact, they are a very polygynous species – where the males have many mates at one time. The males are very territorial during mating season and often have several females nesting in their territory.
The males are highly aggressive during mating season – known to attack much larger animals to protect their nest.
Fun Fact: Red-winged black birds often stay in huge flocks (as seen in my front yard to the left) in trees, in front yards, or on telephone poles! Click the Picture to See RedWinged Blackbirds in Action!
Ready to Attract Red-winged Blackbirds to Your Backyard?
We would LOVE to hear your Red-winged Blackbird experiences… please post a comment below!
Lori & Ginger