Living Bird Magazine
Brewer's BlackbirdEuphagus cyanocephalus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Icteridae
A bird to be seen in the full sun, the male Brewer’s Blackbird is a glossy, almost liquid combination of black, midnight blue, and metallic green. Females are a staid brown, without the male’s bright eye or the female Red-winged Blackbird’s streaks. Common in towns and open habitats of much of the West, you’ll see these long-legged, ground-foraging birds on sidewalks and city parks as well as chuckling in flocks atop shrubs, trees, and reeds.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Brewer’s Blackbirds in two places: meandering along open ground, eyes peeled for crumbs, seeds, and insects; and perched up high, particularly on utility lines and in groups in the tops of trees.
Hear sounds and see videos of Brewer's Blackbird from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library archive
- Zanate de Brewer (Spanish)
- Quiscale de Brewer (French)
Brewer’s Blackbirds readily come to feeders, though they’re a bit clumsy when perching. You’re likely to get the best results by scattering seed on the ground or using an open platform feeder. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- Brewer’s Blackbirds are social birds that nest in colonies of up to 100 birds. The first females to arrive choose a nest site to suit them, and later arrivals follow suit. Eggs are extremely variable in color and pattern. Some studies suggest the variability helps the eggs match the background pattern of the nest, helping to camouflage them.
- Most birds fly south for the winter, but a small number of Brewer’s Blackbirds fly west – leaving the frigid Canadian prairies for the milder coastal regions of British Columbia and Washington.
- Brewer’s Blackbirds cope well with humans and the development we bring. In the last century, they spread eastward from western Minnesota, taking advantage of agricultural fields, farmhouses, and towns. Where they overlap with the Common Grackle, the grackles take the streets and suburbs, leaving the Brewer’s Blackbirds to the fields and grasslands.
- Brewer’s Blackbirds are sometimes shot, trapped, or poisoned around agricultural fields in an attempt to protect crops. Although they do eat grains, this species’ appetite for insects makes it more of a farmer’s friend than a pest. Brewer’s Blackbirds are quick to notice new food sources and have been credited with helping to curb outbreaks of insect pests including weevils, cutworms, termites, grasshoppers, and tent caterpillars, among others.
- The oldest known Brewer’s Blackbird was a male, and over 12 years, 6 months when it was found in California.