About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Red-Winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus
Order: PASSERIFORMES Family: Blackbirds and Orioles (Icteridae)

Description: The male is an all black bird with red shoulder patches edged in yellow. The female and juvenile have heavily streaked underparts and mottled brown upperparts.

General: The loud konk-a-ree or ogle-reeeeeee is a very welcoming sound after a long winter. Male Red-winged Blackbirds usually arrive in mid-Michigan in mid-March and the females a little later.

Behavior: During the breeding season, Red-winged Blackbirds eat mostly insects, including dragonflies, damselflies, beetles, butterflies and moths. They often use a feeding technique known as gaping. They expose insects that are hiding under sticks and stones or in the bases of leaves by forcibly spreading open their bills. If no bugs are available in early spring they may initially frequent your feeder.

Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the most polygamous of all bird species. They have been observed to have as many as 15 females nesting in the territory of a single male. On average, a single male has roughly five females in its territory. Once he is done wooing the females, over a quarter of the male’s time is spent vigorously defending his territory from other males and predators.

Meanwhile the female Red-winged Blackbirds starts building a nest among cattails in four stages. Initially they weave together several supporting pieces of vegetation and then intertwine the walls of the nest onto these supports. The nest cup is then lined with mud, and the final step is to line the nest with a layer of fine grasses.