One of the most mis-identified birds…

can you guess what bird this is?

can you guess what bird this is?

how about from this view?

how about from this view?

 This bird is one of the most abundant species in North America.

Red-winged Blackbird, female

Red-winged Blackbird, female

How about in this light?

This is a female Red-winged Blackbird, or another name could be Big Brown Streaky Bird.

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

Here’s a photo of the familiar Red-winged Blackbird (male). Notice how he isn’t very excited, he has his red shoulder patch covered up so just the yellow is showing.
immature male Red-winged Blackbird, photo by Alice Hill

immature male Red-winged Blackbird, photo by Alice Hill

Here’s another reason this common bird can be confusing. An immature male Red-winged Blackbird that was hatched last summer. He’d be a first year male Red-winged Blackbird. He is just developing his red and yellow shoulder patches and if he were showing them, they would probably be an orangish color.
In winter Red-winged Blackbirds migrate to the southern U.S. where they gather in huge flocks along with other Blackbirds, like the Brewer’s and Rusty. They’ll also associate with Cowbirds, Grackles and Starlings. Down south, these birds can be considered pests and they can reek havoc on a grain field.
The Red-winged Blackbird has black eyes, black legs, and a black conical shaped beak. The other Blackbirds and Grackles have yellow eyes and the European Starling has a yellow beak. The male Brown-headed Cowbird has a brown head and the female Cowbird is just a dull brown color with no streaking.
In Minnesota we see lots of Red-winged Blackbirds in the Spring as they set up their territories in the marshes and wet ditches that line some of our roadsides. The males can be seen perched atop cattails with their feathers all puffed out in display. Their familiar call of konk-la-ree rings out over the marsh. Meanwhile, the females are sneaking around in the cattails building nests or tending to young. You just don’t see the females too often in the marsh. But at this time of the year, when bugs are scarce, Red-winged Blackbirds will come into feeders to dine on sunflower seeds. Actually, they could come around to your feeders all summer if you spread seed on the ground. They also like bread crumbs.
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3 Responses to One of the most mis-identified birds…

  1. I like those Big Brown Streaky Birds. In the right light they look like they have an orange wash to me.

  2. je anne says:

    best pictures of maturing black bird I have found. do you have other places for other birds that I could explore?

  3. jeanne says:

    Do you have other places I can explore this is the best site I have seen discribing maturing stages of bird

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