Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah
image A male red-winged blackbird perches on a reed located in the foothills of Lake Point in a marshy location. Both he and several other red-winged blackbirds, male and female, were found dominating and occupying their territories.

April 7, 2016
Red-winged blackbirds use vocalization, plumage

Known for its aggressiveness and territorial behaviors, particularly the males, the red-winged blackbird is a loud and noticeable bird with various types of shrills and an attractive plumage. Its main colorations, black with a vibrant red and yellow striping on their shoulders, the male red-winged blackbird’s plumage, colorations, and vocalizations are used for attracting mates and warning off predators.

During the spring, males will either pick out a new spot or return to the same spot from last year so they may dominate their own territory with their own mates. While tactically attracting females by picking noticeable areas supplied with the natural resources for nesting, males will also attempt to catch their eye with various poses and by boldly calling out. Males are known to have several mated females inhabit and nest on their domain. A single male can have from two to 15 mates.

Males can be seen perching on the tops of reeds and vegetation when attracting females or when keeping look-out for intruders. Whether it is other invading males, predatory animals, or even humans, male red-winged blackbirds are known to forcefully attack those who encroach on their domain. Even with considerably larger foes, those that can’t effectively take on a predator singly, male red-wing blackbirds will resort to ganging up and attacking as a group.

Red-winged blackbirds inhabit areas such as swamped vegetation, wet meadows, marshes, croplands, fields and irrigation canals so they may seclude their nests above water. Their diet consists of insects, weed seeds, grains, invertebrates, frogs, and the eggs and fledglings of other birds.

The female red-winged blackbird’s coloration greatly differs  from that of the males. They are dully colored and resemble oversized sparrows. The brown and dark streaks act as camouflage for when nesting, and enables the females from easily being noticed by the eyes of predators. Unfortunately, red-winged blackbird nests are victimized by another species of bird known as the brown-headed cowbird. This bird parasitically lays its eggs in the nests of others, and to that of the red-winged blackbird, they do so by extracting one of their eggs and replacing it with one of their eggs. Unlike other birds that commonly kill parasitic eggs, red-winged blackbirds raise the cowbird fledgling along with their own.

Taylor Lindsay is an accomplished writer and photographer of wildlife creatures big and small. She can be contacted at CritterChatter@live.com.

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