In the last couple of days, Red-winged Blackbirds have arrived at the Fox River in downtown Waukesha, WI. It sure sounded like spring was in the air this morning when I saw and heard 5 Male Red-winged Blackbirds along the river walk. They were perched high in trees and on the ground foraging for food. The birds were displaying on and off and acting as if they were taking territory. I did not see any females. By early afternoon the Red-winged Blackbirds had disappeared along the river as this flock may have moved on. Photographs were taken on March 18, 2014.
Binomial name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Size: 8.75” long, 13” wing span
Weight: 1.8 oz.
Habitat: The cattail marsh is the most commonly used, but other habitats used are wet and dry meadows, swamps, marshes, wooded or bushy swamps, hayfields, salt marshes, canals used for irrigation and roadside ditches.
Diet: Insects and seeds forging on the ground, sometimes trees.
Nesting: The nest is bowl shaped 4”-7” across. It is constructed of woven plant material on close upright stems in marsh vegetation or a bush. It includes the base platform of wet decaying wood, leaves, and vegetation. The inside is lined with mud and later fine grass. The male helps in choosing the nest location. Typically the female incubates 3-7 eggs pale blue-green to gray in color.
Facts: Although sometimes Red-winged Blackbirds are considered pests, they eat harmful insects in agricultural fields from which farmers benefit. This species is considered by some the most abundant native bird in North America. Red-winged Blackbirds on occasion swoop at people’s heads, they are merely protecting their territory and nest during breeding season.