Red-Winged Blackbirds Singin’ in the Rain…

Our Red Winged Blackbirds started singing about a month ago, and now that the weather has turned mild, they’re really filling the “air-waves”. We have a tiny little creek below our house, and a line of trees between us, so the Red Wings are pretty happy to perch in the treetops and shout it out.

As he sings, he makes sure to show off those bright red epaulets, erecting the feathers so they catch the light and any females’ eye. After all, what’s the point if no-one is looking?

And if you should actually enter the territory he’s so vigorously claiming, you may be subject to attack! Red Wings have been known to swoop on humans who get too close, and commonly attack much larger birds in defense of nest and nestlings.

She’s much less visible, a lot less bold, and generally busy minding her own business of building the nest, laying the 2 to 6 eggs, and being the primary caretaker of the nestlings. The babies fledge at between 11 to 14 days old, and start learning how to fend for themselves very quickly.

Agelaius phoeniceus is generally found near water, whether actively running like our little creek, or a slough, pond or lake. They’re especially happy, when they have pasture or fields nearby, as they will forage for food among the grass or hay. They eat mostly seeds, with insects making up the rest of their diet, so having one foraging in your garden is probably a good thing.

Red Winged Blackbirds are different from most birds in their mating behavior: One male will defend a good territory, and several females will mate with him and nest in that same area. He’s been known to defend his harem and is one of few birds that does!

Red Wings are not uncommon, and are very striking and obvious when they’re near you. Enjoy them, and remember to spread some seed beneath your feeder for them, as they prefer to forage on the ground!

Happy Birding!

As always, feel free to email me at FlamingPurpleJellyfish@gmail.com with comments, corrections, and complaints!

With Grace and Gratitude,

LeslieAnne Hasty

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