Monday, February 21, 2011

Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbird
Adult male Red-Winged Blackbird.
Photo credit:  hart_curt, some rights reserved

Red-Winged Blackbird nest.
Photo credit: Wikipedia/Bob Dayle, some rights reserved
Even though Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the most common North American birds, you probably don't see them very often unless you spend a lot of time around wetlands.  (One good place to see them in Portland, is Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden.)  They like to hang out in the cattails, reeds, or other vegetation near water, where the females build their nests.

The birds' distinctive calls are some of my favorites, and they always make me think of spring, although I'm not sure why that is.  The birds are year-round residents throughout most of the contiguous United States.

Males are glossy black with the namesake red shoulders, while females are not really "black" birds at all - they're streaked brown, and look more like a large sparrow.  For more information about the Red-Winged Blackbird's habits, identification, and samples of their calls, see the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's website, All About Birds.
Adult female Red-winged Blackbird.  Photo credit: Wikipedia, some rights reserved
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