Agelaius phoeniceus
(Red-winged Blackbird)

Order: Passeriformes
Order Description: Passerines
Family: Icteridae
Family Description: Blackbirds, Orioles, & Meadowlarks

Physical Description:
7-9 1/2" (18-24 cm). Males are black except for red wing patches. Females are mottled brown, black, and white with a white eyebrow.

Similar Species- Tricolored Blackbird, female Bobolink, juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird

Song is a two-note cher-leeee. Calls a simple chuck.

Breeds across portions of Canada, south to Baja California and Costa Rica. Winters over much of U.S., especially in southern portions.

Found in freshwater and brackishClick word for definition marshes, in bushes and small trees along watercourses, and in upland cultivated fields. During migrationClick word for definition and in winter, also found in open, cultivated lands, plowed fields, pastures, and prairies. Idaho study found Red-winged Blackbirds avoided grazed riparian areas.

Eats mayflies, moths, beetles, caterpillars, grubs, mollusks, other invertebrates, and some fruits. Approximately 73% of diet is vegetable matter, and 27% is animal matter.

Builds cup-shaped nest in reeds, over or near water. Nests in loose groups; some territorial males have haremsClick word for definition of up to 15 females. One study reported densityClick word for definition of territorial males averaged 0.2-0.7/ha in favorable habitat. gregariousClick word for definition; travels in large flocksClick word for definition, except during breeding season. May travel in mixed flocks with cowbirds and grackles. Forages on ground, or takes food from foliage or air. Species may be most abundant landbird in North America.

Female incubatesClick word for definition 3-5 eggs (usually 4) in northern range, for 11-12 days. Nestlings are tended by both parents or, in some areas, by female only; young are able to leave nest in about 10 days.

Element Code: ABPBXB0010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5,NTMB
National Rank: N5

Important State References:
Medin, D.E. and W.P. Clary. 1990. Bird and small mammal populations in a grazed and ungrazed riparian habitat in Idaho. USDA Forest Service Inter. Res. Sta. Res. Paper INT-245. 8pp.

Photo by Peter S. Weber,© 2000
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.