Red Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird

A Red Winged Blackbird is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Red Winged Blackbirds. We have also put together a list of fun Red Winged Blackbird t-shirts, Red Winged Blackbird bird patches, bird houses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers and other fun bird watching items.

About Red-Winged Blackbirds

It is sighted on telephone wires and roadsides. They are black with distinct red patches on their shoulder which show clearly as the bird flies. At rest, they show a yellow line on the wings. Females are smaller, brown in color and have paler underparts.

Red-Winged Blackbird Color Pattern

Red-winged blackbirds are unique with red and yellow badges. Females are streaked, have a dark brown body with a paler breast.

Description and Identification

Red-winged Blackbirds are very common in North America. You’ll see them sitting on top of cattails, telephone wires, and muddy roadsides. The males are shiny black and boast red and yellow patches on their wings that they can ruffle up or hide. They show their colors the most when they feel most confident. The shoulder patches are prominent when the males are singing. Females resemble a large sparrow with lines of brown and other dark colors. They have a recognizable nasal call. They can be aggressive and are known to attack larger birds, like crows or hawks, that fly over their nests. During nesting season, they are more independent, but tend to roost in large numbers outside of this time of year. 

Red-Winged Blackbird Size

They are broadly shouldered birds with a medium lengthen tail. They show a humped back when it is perched. Their relative size measurements include:

  • Length 17 – 23 cm
  • Weight 32 – 77 g
  • Wingspan 31 – 40 cm
Red Winged Blackbird
Red Winged Blackbird

Red-Winged Blackbird Behavior

They spend most of the breeding time sitting on a perch watching over their territories singing endlessly. Red-winged blackbird females spend time collecting nest materials and food. Protecting territory is done by both males and females. They nest in groups of undefined numbers because their habitat is rare. 5 – 15 females can end up crowding a single males’ territory and mate with him.

What Red-Winged Blackbird Eat and their Food

Their main source of nutrition is insects and seeds during the summer. Red-winged blackbirds feed on water plants to get to the insects dwelling in them. During the fall and winter, they eat sunflowers and waste grains. Insects are the food of choice for Red-winged Blackbirds in the summer. They poke at the bottom of water plants with their bills to pry them open so they can eat the insects that like to hide in there. The fall and winter bring some change to their diets, as they consume weedy seeds, like cocklebur and ragweed, in addition to waste grains and native sunflowers. They also eat some berries and small fruits. These birds mostly forage while they walk along the ground, but they will also look for food in trees and shrubs. They forage in flocks when it’s not breeding season, often with starlings and other blackbird species. 

Where Red-Winged Blackbirds Live and their Habitat

Over the breeding season, they live in wet marshy areas. They occasionally nest in wooded areas but easily accessible to water sources. Over the winter period, they flock in agricultural areas. Red-winged Blackbirds hang out in rice paddies, saltwater marshes, or other wet locations when it is breeding season. They also enjoy alfalfa fields, fallow fields, sedge meadows, and other, drier areas. Sometimes, they make nests in wooded places near water. They love feedlots, pastures, grassland, and agricultural fields in the fall and winter, outside of breeding season, where they can forage for food. You’ll also see them finding sustenance along waters’ edges. They often breed in freshwater marshes, but they will also do so in rank weedy fields, hayfields, brushy or wooded swamps. 

Range and Migration

You’ll likely find Red-winged Blackbirds wherever you live in North America throughout the year. In northern climes, you’ll see migrants come early in the spring, and males will be the first on the scene, followed by the females. They migrate in flocks. You can sometimes see them as far north as Alaska in some areas during breeding season, and they like Canada and some parts of the northern U.S. during breeding season. They’re common in most of the continental U.S. throughout all seasons and are present in large parts of Mexico as well. Some winter in Baja California and western parts of Mexico.

Red-Winged Blackbird Lifecycle

They build their nests low and close to the ground in marsh vegetation or trees. Females oversee choosing the nesting site and build the nest using thick vegetation and keep adding wet leaves and decayed wood and using mud on the inside as plaster. A female lays 2 to 4 eggs and incubates them for 11 to 13 days. The chicks leave the nest 11 to 14 days after hatching.


Males sit up high with their feathers puffed out and their tails partly open to attract a female and when they are protecting their territory. You’ll see them lift the front edge of their wing so everyone can see their red and yellow patches. They then sing. A male usually attracts more than one female. The adults are bold in defending their nesting area, and they let you know when you get too close. Their nests are in marsh growth, like bulrushes or cattails, and you may find them in bushes or saplings near water, or thick grass in fields. Females build the nests, which are bulky and attached to nearby plants. 


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

  • Kids Bird Watching Monthly Subscription

    $10.00 / month
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  • Kid & Adult Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $10.00 / month and a $72.00 sign-up fee
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  • Kids Bird Watching Starter Pack Subscription

    $10.00 / month and a $19.00 sign-up fee
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Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Red Winged Blackbirds

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing Red Winged Blackbirds are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

  • Birding Binoculars

    Birding Binoculars

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  • Kids Binocular 8x21

    Kids Binoculars

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Red-winged Blackbird 3D Paper Craft Model

This Red-winged Blackbird 3D papercraft model is a great way to learn about birds and have fun doing it. This model is like a puzzle where you have to connect the pieces together. It is designed for adults or skilled crafty teens. The difficulty level is medium to hard but is fun.

Red Winged Blackbird T-shirts

If you love the Red Winged Blackbird you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.

Red Winged Blackbird Iron On Patches

Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron on patches. Our bird watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen an identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.

The Red Winged Blackbird is a great iron on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.

  • Bird Banner with iron on patches

    Bird Banner

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Red Winged Blackbird Stickers

Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Red Winged Blackbird. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month. 

Best Bird Houses for Red Winged Blackbird

There are many types of bird houses. Building a bird house is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 bird houses have become our favorites. Getting a bird house for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these bird houses but they have been worth the higher price and look great. 

Bird Feeders For Red Winged Blackbird

There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.

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