Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
(Yellow-headed Blackbird)


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

Physical Description:
8-11" (20-28 cm). Yellow extends from top of head down to napeClick word for definition and breast; washed with read around black encircled eyes. Remainder of body is black. Female is brown with wash of yellow on breast and behind eye.

Similar Species- Male Bobolink, Horned Lark

Song:
Song a loud, raspy note following two softer whistles. Call a low chuck.

Distribution:
Breeds from central-interior British Columbia, east to extreme western Ontario and northwestern Ohio, and south to southern California, northeastern Baja California, New Mexico, northern Texas, northern Missouri, and northwestern Ohio. Winters from central California, central Arizona, southern New Mexico, and Texas, south to portions of Mexico, and casually to Costa Rica.

Habitat:
Found in freshwater marshes of cattail, tule, or bulrushes. During migrationClick word for definition and in winter, also found in open cultivated lands, pastures, and fields.

Diet:
Feeds on insects, seeds, and grain.

Ecology:
Builds cup-shaped nest in reeds over water. Searches for food while walking along ground or perched on seed- bearing plant; also forages in fields and on muddy ground near water. gregariousClick word for definition; often found with much larger flocksClick word for definition of Red-winged Blackbirds in winter. Territorial; may exclude Marsh Wrens from breeding areas (Marsh Wrens may disrupt some nesting attempts).

Reproduction:
Female incubatesClick word for definition 3-5 eggs for 12-13 days. Young leave nest 9-12 days after hatching, but are unable to fly until about 21 days.

Conservation:
Element Code: ABPBXB3010
Status: Protected nongame species
Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5,NTMB
National Rank: N5B,N5N

Important State References:
No references are available at this time.


Photo by George Jameson, ©2002.
Design by Ean Harker©1999, 2000.
Written by Jason Karl, 2000.