Tri-colored Blackbird

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image: TricoloredBlackbird.jpg

Common Name: Tricolored Blackbird

Scientific Name: Agelaius tricolor

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

Habitat: North America; found only in California. Prefers wetlands and grassy areas.

Status: Endangered. Global Population: 250,000 mature individuals. A very rapid and on-going decline is estimated directly, based on repeated censuses (using the same methods) of the Central Valley population (which comprises the majority of the global population). Loss of upland nesting habitat, combined with low reproductive success in native habitats and complete breeding failure in harvested agricultural fields, are the most likely causes of recent declines. Additionally, herbicide spraying and contaminated water are suspected to have caused complete breeding failure in several colonies. Historic declines may have occurred because of the loss of native wetlands, loss of grasslands and grasshoppers (a main component of the species' diet), hunting, and large-scale poisoning efforts to control crop depredation that continued until the 1960s. Because breeding success is so poor in native wetlands, protection of these habitats will not reverse population declines in the species - conservation measures must focus on agricultural land and upland habitats as well.

It is currently classified in California as a Species of Special Concern and a Migratory Bird of Management Concern, categories which identify reduced populations but do not include the legal protections offered to species listed as threatened. It is also currently under petition for Federal Endangered Species protection.

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: The Tricolored Blackbird can be found at the Audubon Kernville preserve along with the bi-colored Red-winged Blackbird. Due to its dependence of a large colony structure, habitat fragmentation could lead to its demise just as it did with the passenger pigeon.

The Tricolored Blackbird is the bird featured in “A Field of Birds” produced by Audubon California.

Support for the Tricolored Blackbird has also been the focus of the Songbird ReMix series annual Audubon’s birthday sale. The Songbird ReMix Audubon’s Birthday Sale has raised over $10,000 (as of 2012) for Audubon California to help protect this species.

Found in Songbird Remix Characters

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