RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD

Agelaius phoeniceus

Among our most familiar birds, Red-wings seem to sing their nasal songs in every marsh and wet field from coast to coast. They are notably bold, and several will often attack a larger bird, such as a hawk or crow, that flies over their nesting area. The red shoulder patches of the male, hidden under body feathers much of the time, are brilliantly displayed when he is singing. Outside the nesting season, Red-wings sometimes roost in huge concentrations.

Conservation Status

Abundant and widespread.

Habitat

Breeds in marshes, brushy swamps, hayfields; forages also in cultivated land and along edges of water. Breeds most commonly in freshwater marsh, but also in wooded or brushy swamps, rank weedy fields, hayfields, upper edges of salt marsh. Often forages in other open habitats, such as fields and mudflats; outside the breeding season, flocks gather in farm fields, pastures, feedlots.

Diet

Mostly insects and seeds. Feeds on many insects, especially in summer, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and others; also spiders, millipedes, snails. Majority of adult’s annual diet is seeds, including those of grasses, weeds, and waste grain. Also eats some berries and small fruits.