At a Glance
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.
All bird guide text and rangemaps adapted from Lives of North American Birds by Kenn Kaufman© 1996, used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Blackbirds and Orioles, Perching Birds
Coasts and Shorelines, Desert and Arid Habitats, Fields, Meadows, and Grasslands, Forests and Woodlands, Landfills and Dumps, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets, Urban and Suburban Habitats
Alaska and The North, California, Eastern Canada, Florida, Great Lakes, Mid Atlantic, New England, Northwest, Plains, Rocky Mountains, Southeast, Southwest, Texas, Western Canada
Direct Flight, Undulating
Range & Identification
Migration & Range Maps
Present all year in parts of West. Spreads eastward in fall, with winter range including much of Southeast. Migrates north relatively early in spring.
9" (23 cm). Shorter-tailed than grackles, a bit larger than cowbirds. Male all glossy black with whitish eyes. Female dull gray-brown, with dark eyes.
About the size of a Crow, About the size of a Robin
Black, Brown, Purple
Songs and Calls
Gurgles, squawks, and whistles.
Buzz, Chatter, Chirp/Chip, Whistle
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.
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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.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 13-14 days after hatching. 1 brood per year, sometimes 2.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Brewer's Blackbird. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.
Climate Threats Facing the Brewer's Blackbird
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.