Red-winged Blackbirds

Fun Facts About Red-winged Blackbirds

  • Red-winged Blackbird MaleRed-winged Blackbirds diets differ between male and females, with females consuming more weed seeds and less waste corn than males. 
  • Red-wing Blackbirds will increase their feeding rate to match the other blackbirds around them, even if they are already well feed.
  • Red-wing Blackbirds learn which new foods to try by carefully watching what the other blackbirds are eating.
  • During the breeding season, Red-winged Blackbirds eat mostly insects, including dragonflies, damselflies, beetles, butterflies and moths. In the winter, they switch to mostly to seeds and grains.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds will often declare war on the Marsh Wrens in their territory. Both species will eat the others’ eggs.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds often use a feeding technique known as gaping. They expose insects that are hiding under sticks and stones or in the bases of leaves by forcibly spreading open their bills.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the most polygamous of all bird species. They have been observed to have as many as 15 females nesting in the territory of a single male. On average, a single male has roughly five females in its territory.
  • Red-winged Blackbirds fiercely defend their territories during the breeding season. Over a quarter of the male’s time is spent vigorously defending his territory from other males and predators. They do not hesitate to attack much larger animals, including people!
  • Red-winged Blackbirds can form huge roosts during the winter. Up to a million birds will stay in one area at night. During the daytime, they will disperse up to 50 miles away in search of food.
  • Red-winged Blackbird FemaleRed-winged Blackbirds commonly share their winter roosts with other blackbird species, Common Grackles, Brown-headed Cowbirds and European Starlings.
  • Male Red-winged Blackbirds return north in the spring ahead of the females and migrate south in the fall after the females.
  • Female Red-winged Blackbirds build their nest in four stages. Initially they weave together several supporting pieces of vegetation and then intertwine the walls of the nest onto these supports. The nest cup is then lined with mud, and the final step is to line the nest with a layer of fine grasses.
  • Large flocks of Red-winged and other blackbirds can cause wide-scale damage to sunflower, corn and rice crops. The control measures used to reduce this crop damage are now the major source of adult mortality in Red-winged Blackbirds.