Birdorable Red-winged Blackbird

10 Red-winged Blackbird Facts

March 6th, 2014 in Blackbirds, Fun Facts 1 comment

Red-winged Blackbirds range across much of North America, from parts of Alaska and the Northwest Territories of Canada, down through Mexico and into parts of Central America. Though a good portion of the population remains resident year-round, throughout northern parts of their range, they are considered a harbinger of spring. That first "KonkaREE!" heard in the late winter can be music to a birder's ear. Here are some interesting facts about the Red-winged Blackbird.

1) In several Ojibwa language dialects, the species is called memiskondinimaanganeshiinh, which means roughly "a bird with a very red shoulder-blade"

2) There are at least 22 subspecies of Red-winged Blackbird, most of which look virtually alike

3) The Red-winged Blackbird is in the Icteridae family of birds, which also includes Brown-headed Cowbirds, Grackles, and Orioles

4) While male Red-winged Blackbirds are unmistakeable in the field, sometimes female or juvenile birds pose an identification puzzle. Their streaky bodies resemble some species of sparrow

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird

5) The diet of Red-winged Blackbirds varies; they will eat both insects (more often in the summer) and seeds (more often in the winter). At feeders they will dine on suet and other bird seed; one of their favorites is sunflower seeds

6) Male Red-winged Blackbirds like to play the field. One male may have up to 15 different females nesting in his territory...

7) ... which he fiercely defends from intruders. Here a Red-winged Blackbird, weighing no more than 3 ounces, takes on three Sandhill Cranes, which can weigh 10 lbs or more!

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Red-winged Blackbird attacks Sandhill Cranes

8) The longevity record for the Red-winged Blackbird is 15 years and 9 months; this is known from bird banding efforts

9) In flight, Red-winged Blackbirds may reach speeds up to 30 miles per hour!!

10) The Red-winged Blackbird is one of the most abundant species found in North America. Their conservation status is Least Concern as of 2012