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.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Fun Facts on Red-winged Blackbirds

How does a female redwing blackbird look? ~ Wyandotte, Michigan
What do red winged blackbirds eat? ~ Mountain Iron, Minnesota

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.

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. They enjoy suet, nuts, and sunflower seeds.

More Fun Facts:
•Red-wing Blackbirds will increase their feeding rate to match the other blackbirds around them, even if they are already well feed.
•Red-wing Blackbirds learn which new foods to try by carefully watching what the other blackbirds are eating.
•Red-winged Blackbirds 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.
•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.
•Red-winged Blackbirds fiercely defend their territories during the breeding season. Over a quarter of the male’s time is spent vigorously defending his territory from other males and predators.
•Male Red-winged Blackbirds return north in the spring ahead of the females and migrate south in the fall after the females.
•Female Red-winged Blackbirds build their nest 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.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

good website! definitely worth visiting!!

Anonymous said...

this website is great, i got an A- on my report on red wing black birds!

Anonymous said...

Gives Good Information ! : )

Anonymous said...

New Years Eve,2011, there was an unexplained death of at least 100 RW Blackbirds in BeBee,Ar. I was just told by my nejghbor that her sister had sent her a text telling of the same thing happening erlier this evening! Do you know anything about this? As far as we remember there was no plausible reason given for the death of such a large group of RW Blackbirds last year!

Wild Birds Unlimited Mid-Michigan said...

According to the U.S. Geological Survey scientists, preliminary tests show that the bird deaths in Arkansas on New Year’s Eve and those in Louisiana were caused by impact trauma.

Preliminary findings from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center's Arkansas bird analyses suggest that the birds died from impact trauma, and these findings are consistent with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's statement. The State concluded that such trauma was probably a result of the birds being startled by loud noises on the night of Dec. 31, arousing them and causing them to fly into objects such as houses or trees. Scientists at the USGS NWHC performed necropsies—the animal version of an autopsy—on the birds and found internal hemorrhaging, while the pesticide tests they conducted were negative.