The redwings are among our earliest spring migrants. Mid-March is when the male Red-winged Blackbirds arrive in mid-Michigan. The females will arrive a little later.
The male Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus is an all black bird with red shoulder patches edged in yellow. The female and juvenile have heavily streaked underparts and mottled brown upperparts.
Some people don’t like to have the Red-winged blackbirds at their feeder in the spring because they are loud and messy and eat a lot. While there’s some truth to that, Red-winged blackbirds also consume large numbers insects and weed seeds, so they have their good points as well. And when the rains come in the spring, the bugs are sure to follow and then we’ll be happy they eat so much.
Red-wings return to breed at or near the same hatching or nesting site every year. Then once they are done nesting, they begin to wander and form large flocks in preparation for migration. In the wild, a Red-winged Blackbird's lifespan averages 2.14 years, but the oldest red-winged recorded was 15 years 9 months old.
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