|Conservation status||Abundant and widespread.|
|Family||Blackbirds and Orioles|
|Habitat||Breeds in marshes, brushy swamps, hayfields; forages also in cultivated land and along edges of water. Breeds most commonly in freshwater marsh, but also in wooded or brushy swamps, rank weedy fields, hayfields, upper edges of salt marsh. Often forages in other open habitats, such as fields and mudflats; outside the breeding season, flocks gather in farm fields, pastures, feedlots.|
Forages mostly while walking on ground; also sometimes up in shrubs and trees. Outside the breeding season, usually forages in flocks, often associated with other blackbirds and starlings.
3-4, rarely 2-6. Pale blue-green, with markings of black, brown, purple concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, 10-12 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings (but female does more). Young leave nest about 11-14 days after hatching.
Both parents feed nestlings (but female does more). Young leave nest about 11-14 days after hatching.
Mostly insects and seeds. Feeds on many insects, especially in summer, including beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and others; also spiders, millipedes, snails. Majority of adult's annual diet (roughly three-fourths) is seeds, including those of grasses, weeds, and waste grain. Also eats some berries and small fruits.
To defend his territory and attract a mate, male perches on high stalk with feathers fluffed out and tail partly spread, lifts leading edge of wing so that red shoulder patches are prominent, and sings. Also sings in slow, fluttering flight. One male often has more than one mate. Adults are very aggressive in nesting territory, attacking larger birds that approach, and loudly protesting human intruders. Nest: Placed in marsh growth such as cattails or bulrushes, in bushes or saplings close to water, or in dense grass in fields. Nest (built by female) is bulky open cup, lashed to standing vegetation, made of grass, reeds, leaves, rootlets, lined with fine grass.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Present throughout the year in many areas. In the north, migrants appear quite early in spring, with males arriving before females. Migrates in flocks.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA rich, musical o-ka-leeee!
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Red-winged Blackbird
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Red-winged 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.