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