Red-winged Blackbird

Silhouette BlackbirdsBlackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird

Agelaius phoeniceus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Icteridae
Basic Description

One of the most abundant birds across North America, and one of the most boldly colored, the Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar sight atop cattails, along soggy roadsides, and on telephone wires. Glossy-black males have scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches they can puff up or hide depending on how confident they feel. Females are a subdued, streaky brown, almost like a large, dark sparrow. Their early and tumbling song are happy indications of the return of spring.

More ID Info
image of range map for Red-winged BlackbirdRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

You can find Red-winged Blackbirds in the breeding season by visiting cattail marshes and other wetlands, or simply by watching telephone wires on a drive through the country. Where there’s standing water and vegetation, Red-winged Blackbirds are likely to be one of the most common birds you see and hear. Listen for the male’s conk-la-lee! song. In winter, search through mixed-species blackbird flocks and be careful not to overlook the streaky, brown females, which can sometimes resemble a sparrow.

Other Names
  • Tordo Sargento (Spanish)
  • Carouge à épaulettes (French)

Backyard Tips

Red-winged Blackbirds may come to your yard for mixed grains and seeds, particularly during migration. Spread grain or seed on the ground as well, since this is where Red-winged Blackbirds prefer to feed. 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