Identifying Red-winged Blackbirds:

Roughly the same size as robins, breeding male Red-winged Blackbirds are pretty hard to mistake. Average length beak to tail ranges from 7-9 inches with a wingspan of 12-16 inches. True to their name, these stocky, broad-shouldered blackbirds have bold red and yellow shoulder patches on either side (above left image). The females look much different with a streaked brown and tan pattern (above right image). Nonbreeding male Red-winged black birds' pattern looks somewhat like a marriage of the two: paler, often incomplete red shoulder patches with some tan streaking showing through the black (below image).

Red-winged Blackbirds are most often found in marshes, along watercourses, throughout vegetation surrounding water hazards on golf courses, wet roadsides, and also in drier meadows and fields. While females tend to stay lower to the ground and can be harder to see through vegetation, the male Red-winged Blackbirds can be found sitting on any high perch they can find, singing loudly. Think you may be hearing a Red-winged Blackbird? Check here for examples of this bird's loud call.

These birds have a winter range in Mexico and most of the southern United States. In the Northern states and Canada, the first sightings of these birds are anxiously awaited as an early indicator that spring is on its way! 

Attracting Red-winged Blackbirds to Your Feeder:

In the fall and winter, Red-winged Blackbirds flock with other blackbirds, grackles, starlings, and cowbirds. During migration, these ravenous flocks can drain feeders in a matter of hours. 

Red-winged Blackbirds are most comfortable feeding on the ground, so spreading cracked corn, millet, or even oats in your yard can attract these black beauties. An open-style feeder such as a platform feeder, a large hopper feeder, or a vertical feeder with extended perching tray are good feeder options as they offer ample space for these birds to perch without feeling crowded. Black oil sunflower and hulled sunflower along with seed mixes that include sunflower, corn, peanut hearts, and milo can be used in these feeder styles to attract Red-winged Blackbirds.

 

Nesting:

Red-winged Blackbirds build their nests among vertical shoots of marsh vegetation or surrounding trees or shrubs. The female will select a nest location typically near the ground in dense, grass-like vegetation. Vegetation like cattails or phragmites in wetland locations, and in uplands vegetation like goldenrod, blackberry, or willow and alder trees. She will construct the nest by winding long thin strings of plan material around several upright stems. Once she completes weaving this platform she will add wet leaves and decayed wood and plaster the entire inside with mud to form a cup shape. Once formed, this cup is then lined with finer dry grasses. 

Measuring 4-7 inches across, this nest will house a clutch of 2-4 eggs. Eggs are pale gray-blue in color with black or brown marbling. Eggs will hatch in roughly two weeks and the young will fledge in an additional two weeks.

Have you seen any Red-winged Blackbirds yet this year?

16 comments

  • February 21st, 2024. About 6 male red winged black birds spotted on a nearby feeder. Lone Tree, Colorado

    - Caitlin
  • February 20, 2024: First Red-winged blackbirds as a herald of spring in Parker Idaho.

    - C Farr
  • Today is April 24: spotted first Red Wing Black Bird this morning in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. Spring is indeed here and the last of the over winter snow is disappearing.

    I look forward to their wonderful call.

    - Peter Kalven
  • Hi M Wheeler! Just the male has the red and yellow patch. Check out the first set of pictures and first paragraph in the blog above for more information on males and females. Happy birding!

    - Nature's Way Bird Products
  • We have quite a group of redwings in our yard Do the male & female have the red wing or just the male

    - M Wheeler

Post a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

New items

See what's new

New Arrival
Regular price $29.99
Sale price $29.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Attract more hummingbirds to your yard with this antique textured glass hummingbird feeder! Decorative dual-use feeder basket can be hung using included chains or set directly on a flat surface ...
New Arrival
Regular price $28.99
Sale price $28.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Bring more blooms to your yard with this decorative floral glass hummingbird feeder! Easy Connect – Hanging ring designed with additional loop at the bottom to allow for multiple feeders to be co...
New Arrival
Regular price $28.99
Sale price $28.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Bring more blooms to your yard with this decorative floral glass hummingbird feeder! Easy Connect – Hanging ring designed with additional loop at the bottom to allow for multiple feeders to be co...
Best Seller New Arrival Sold Out
Regular price $2.99
Sale price $2.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from most locations Securely add length to any hook or hanger, outdoors or indoors Dur...
New Arrival
Regular price $4.99
Sale price $4.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from most locations Customize length to fit your needs with secure locking clip Secure...
Best Seller New Arrival
Regular price $2.99
Sale price $2.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from most small branches Securely add length to any hook or hanger, outdoors or indoor...
Best Seller New Arrival
Regular price $23.99
Sale price $23.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Defend your bird seed from undesirable critters with this dual-mount squirrel baffle! 16-inch diameter baffle can be suspended above feeder as a squirrel defender and weather guard or attached to ...
New Arrival
Regular price $27.99
Sale price $27.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Defend your bird seed from undesirable critters with this pole mounted squirrel baffle! Baffle easily installs to bird feeder poles and shepherd hooks; includes a metal coupler for secure position...
New Arrival
Regular price $17.99
Sale price $17.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Enjoy the convenience of hanging bird feeders, windchimes, flower baskets, and your other favorite lawn décor from your deck Durable weather-resistant powder-coated metal for a hanger that can wit...
New Arrival
Regular price $49.99
Sale price $49.99
Regular price
Unit price
per 
Add a touch of classic architecture and design to your yard with this gazebo bird feeder! Large and small bird spacing for attracting a wide variety of birds Channeled base with drainage holes dir...