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 brackish marshes, in bushes and small trees along watercourses, and in upland cultivated fields. During migration 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 harems of up to 15 females. One study reported density of territorial males averaged 0.2-0.7/ha in favorable habitat. gregarious; travels in large flocks, 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.
|Status:||Protected nongame species|
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.