Red-winged Blackbird

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image: rwblackbird.jpg

Common Name: Red-winged Blackbird

Scientific Name: Agelaius phoeniceus

Size: 7-9 inches (17-23cm)

Habitat: North America; throughout North America. Prefers wetlands and grassy areas.

Status: Least Concern. Global Population: 210,000,000 mature individuals. Perhaps now the most abundant native bird in North America. This species has undergone a small or statistically insignificant decrease over the last 40 years in North America.

Diet: Insects, seed and grain.

Breeding: An open cup nest made of woven grasses and mud. Three to four blue-green eggs with dark streaks or blotches.

Cool Facts: There’s many different subspecies of Red-winged Blackbirds that vary markedly in size and proportions. A field experiment was conducted that moved nestlings between populations and found that the chicks grew up to resemble their foster parents. The Bi-color morph Red-winged Blackbird is found primarily in Kern County, California.

Males fiercely defend their territory, spending up a the quarter of the daylight hours standing guard. Blackbirds have been known to attack horses and humans in this defense. Red-winged Blackbirds are highly polygynous, with one male can have up to 15 different females making nests in his territory. While a proud blackbird male might brag about his 15 wives and their offspring, often 25% of those offspring are actually sired by neighboring males.

Red-winged Blackbird forms roosting congregations throughout the year. In the summer it will roost in small numbers but in the winter it can form huge congregations of several million birds. It commonly shares its winter roost with other blackbird species and European Starlings.

Red-winged Blackbirds are considered crop pests and made the news several years back when farmers killed off a large number of blackbirds to defend their “bird seed” crop in an ironic twist.

Found in Songbird Remix Characters

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