Red winged Blackbird

The Red-winged blackbird is a common site in the wetlands and farmlands across North America, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and parts of Costa Rica. The red-winged blackbird migrates during the winter to southern climates.

The male of the species, is a medium sized songbird ranging from seven to nine inches, with a tail of medium length and a long slender bill.  The wingspan is twelve to sixteen inches and the weight is between one to just over two and a half ounces. The most striking feature of the male is the yellow bar with a large red patch above it that gives the red-winged blackbird its name. When the male is showing off he will display the brilliant bars of color, when he is at rest, only a yellow wing bar shows.

The female is striped, looking very much like a large sparrow, ranging up to seven inches and thirty six grams of weight. The young birds look like the female but have a paler shade underneath and lighter buff markings.

Red-winged blackbirds mate with more then one of the opposite sexes, males defending up to ten females. Mating season is from early spring to mid summer.

The females, however are not particular who they mate with, therefore mixed clutches are found. Pairs of red-winged blackbirds lay two to three clutches per season, and build a new nest for each. The nests are small cups made of vegetation built in shrubs or attached to marsh grass, such as the cattail plant.

These nests hold three to five bluish green eggs that are incubated by the female for eleven to twelve days. Ten days later, the baby redwings are ready to leave the next.  There are a host of predators to consume the eggs, the primary ones being snakes, raccoon and other birds.

The red-winged blackbird consumes insects, spiders and mollusks as well as weed seed and waste grain. In season it feasts on fruit such as blackberries and blueberries.

The life span for the red-winged blackbird is two and one quarter years on the average.  It is not uncommon to see a million or more birds at one time as they descend on crops, thus leading to their perception as a bird needing thinning.

The conservation status of the red-winged blackbird is at the least threatened level.


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