Photo: EugeneBeckes/Flickr Creative Commons

Brewer's Blackbird

Euphagus cyanocephalus

This is the common blackbird of open country in the West, often seen walking on the ground with short forward jerks of its head. It adapts well to habitats altered by humans, and in places it may walk about on suburban sidewalks or scavenge for crumbs around beachfront restaurants. In winter, Brewer's Blackbirds gather in large flocks, often with other blackbirds, and may be seen foraging in farmland all across the western and southern states.
Conservation status Widespread and abundant. Expanded its range eastward in Great Lakes region during 20th century. In some areas, may be affected by competition with Common Grackle, increasing in the west.
Family Blackbirds and Orioles
Habitat Fields, prairies, farms, parks. Occurs in many kinds of open and semi-open country, including shrubby areas near water, streamside woods, aspen groves in mountain meadows, shores, farmland, irrigated or plowed fields. Often around human habitations, foraging on suburban lawns and in city parking lots.
This is the common blackbird of open country in the West, often seen walking on the ground with short forward jerks of its head. It adapts well to habitats altered by humans, and in places it may walk about on suburban sidewalks or scavenge for crumbs around beachfront restaurants. In winter, Brewer's Blackbirds gather in large flocks, often with other blackbirds, and may be seen foraging in farmland all across the western and southern states.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • juvenile
  • adult female
  • juvenile, heavy molt
Feeding Behavior

Walks on the ground as it searches for food. Sometimes wades in very shallow water. Sometimes catches insects in flight. May follow farm machinery in fields to feed on insects turned up by the plow. Except in nesting season, usually forages in flocks.


Eggs

4-6, sometimes 3-7. Pale gray to greenish gray, spotted with brown. Incubation is by female, 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 13-14 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 13-14 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.

Diet

Mostly insects and seeds, some berries. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, aphids, caterpillars, termites; also some spiders, snails, tiny crustaceans. Eats many seeds of grasses and weeds, plus much waste grain. Also eats berries, especially in summer.


Nesting

Often nests in loose colonies of up to 20-30 pairs. In courtship display (or sometimes in aggressive display), male points bill straight up or forward, fluffs out body feathers, and partly spreads wings and tail. Nest site is quite variable; usually in tree 20-40' above ground, but may be on ground among tall grass, in bushes, or in crevice in cliff. Nest (built by female) is a rather bulky open cup made of twigs, grass, weeds, and pine needles, lined with fine grass, rootlets, animal hair. Often has mud or dried manure added to base.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Present all year in parts of West. Spreads eastward in fall, with winter range including much of Southeast. Migrates north relatively early in spring.

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Migration

Present all year in parts of West. Spreads eastward in fall, with winter range including much of Southeast. Migrates north relatively early in spring.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Gurgles, squawks, and whistles.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Blackbirds and Orioles Perching Birds

Brewer's Blackbird

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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