About 7-9.5 inches (18-24 cm) long. The male is black with bright
red epaulets. This red is often concealed and only yellow may
show around the margin. The female is more brownish in
coloration with well defined dark stripings below. She also may
have a pinkish tinge around the throat. Both sexes have a
sharply pointed bill. Their legs, claws, and beak are dark
Agelaius phoeniceus tends to live in areas with
fresh-water or brackish marshes with bushes and small trees along
the water, in uplands, or about open cultivated fields, as well
as around plowed fields, pastures, and prairies (American
Ornithologists' Union, 1983). The nest is cemented with mud or
dung with an inner lining of fin plant fibers, fresh grasses, or
hair. Red-winged Blackbirds nest in loose to rather crowded
colonies (Leahy, 1982).
This species is resident from Canada south to the West Indies and
Costa Rica (Peterson, 1990)
This omnivorous ground feeder will eat almost any plant or animal
matter that it can swallow; however, it does consume more plant
than animal matter. The diet often consists of worms, insects,
mussels, snails, crayfish, frogs, lizards, bird eggs, nestlings,
and seeds (Leahy, 1982).
The female usually lays 4-5 (sometimes 3-7) eggs. They are
glossy, white to pale blue, green, pinkish, purplish, or brown.
they are sparsely to densely speckled (Leahy, 1982).
The Red-Winged Blackbird is gregarious, often traveling and
roosting in flocks. Their winter roosts may build up to millions
of birds (Fisher and Peterson, 1977). They are often heard as a
loud check or a high slurred tee-err. In song a
liquid, gurgling konk-la-ree or o-ka-lay is heard
American Ornithologists' Union. 1983. Check-list of North
American birds, 6th ed. Allen Press, Lawrence, 877 pp.
Fisher, J. and R.T. Peterson. 1977. World of birds. Crescent
Books, New York, 191 pp.
Leahy, C. 1982. The birdwatcher's companion: an encyclopedic
handbook of North American birdlife. Hill and Wang, New York, 917
Peterson, R.T. 1990. A field guide to western birds. Third ed.,
Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston, 432 pp.
Mary Kirschenbaum, July 1996.