About us: We own a wild bird feeding supply 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.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Identifying a Female Red-winged Blackbird

I saw a this large sparrow like bird at the feeders two days in a row. Do you know what it is? P~Lansing
You've captured a photo of a Red-winged Blackbird female.
The Red-winged Blackbird male is unmistakable for most Michigan residents. The pure black bird with bright red shoulder patches edged in yellow is hard to miss. The female and juvenile are less obvious. They have heavily streaked under parts and mottled brown upperparts and can look like large sparrows.

Now that breeding season is over for red-wings, they will begin to gather in flocks of all male or all female birds. Northern populations migrate south to the southern United States and Central America beginning as early as August.

A flock of Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius pho...Image via Wikipedia

Even though we’ve had no break in the weather, many birds are feeling a sudden restlessness as they prepare to move south. Red-winged Blackbirds eat mainly insects in the summer and seeds found in fields or feeders, in the winter. In preparation for migration they may stop at your feeders for a last bite. Enjoy!

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Joy K. said...

I saw my first-ever female red-wings this past winter. I'd never have guessed what they were, except that they were hanging with one severely outnumbered but easy-to-recognize male. As we were learning to ID them on sight, we found that if you look at a bird and your first thought is "My god! That's a GIGANTIC sparrow!!!!!" it's probably a female red-winged blackbird.

Debbi said...

I love the males. I never knew they existed until this year. They are gorgeous. Now I know what the female looks like, I will be looking for her too!

#FeedtheBirds said...

Girls have that understated beauty that makes you take a second look. And the way they can disappear in the shadoows is amazing.

Sandy said...

I live in upstate NY, 14 miles from Lake Ontario, in the country. We have had numerous redwinged blackbirds since early spring and now, in one day...they are gone!

Where to??

#FeedtheBirds said...

Northern populations can migrate as far south as Central America. They completely leave Michigan, where I live. In NY you may see them in large fields or at birdfeeders year round.

Red-winged Blackbirds flock with other blackbirds, grackles, cowbirds, and starlings, feeding on open ground and roosting in flocks of thousands or millions of birds.

They are strong fliers, migrating in large flocks, and travelling great distances between roosting and foraging areas each day. Once they've striped an area of bird food they may not return. Each morning the roosts spread out, traveling as far as 50 miles to feed in one area, then re-forming at night.

For more information visit: http://www.hww.ca/hww2.asp?id=426

Thanks, Sarah