Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Walter Siegmund/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.5)

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird
Agelaius phoeniceus
Perching Birds | Family: Blackbirds and Orioles, Icteridae

An estimated 6% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

Listen:
 

Overview

Although primarily a marsh bird, the Red-winged Blackbird will nest near virtually any body of water and occasionally breeds in upland pastures. Each pair raises two or three broods a season, building a new nest for each clutch. After the breeding season, the birds gather with other blackbirds in flocks, sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Although blackbirds are often considered pests because they consume grain in cultivated fields, farmers benefit because the birds consume harmful insects during the nesting season.

Description

7-9 1/2" (18-24 cm). Smaller than a robin. Male is black with bright red shoulder patches. Female and young are heavily streaked with dusky brown. See Tricolored Blackbird.

Voice

A rich, musical o-ka-leeee!

Nesting

3-5 pale blue eggs, spotted and scrawled with dark brown and purple, in a well-made cup of marsh grass or reeds, attached to growing marsh vegetation or built in a bush in a marsh.

Habitat

Marshes, swamps, and wet and dry meadows; pastures.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland and south to northern Baja California, central Mexico, Gulf Coast, and Florida. Winters regularly across United States north to British Columbia, Great Lakes, and Pennsylvania.