Bird of the Week – Red-winged Blackbird

Interior Alaska is near the northerly limit of Red-winged Blackbirds’ range.

Red-winged Blackbird, Peat Ponds, Fairbanks

Red-winged Blackbird, Peat Ponds, Fairbanks

The Red-winged Blackbird might be the most abundant (and best studied) bird in the U.S. The species breeds in marsh and upland habitats from interior Alaska and central Canada to Costa Rica, and from California to the Atlantic Coast and West Indies. Although primarily associated with large freshwater marshes and prairies, it also nests in small patches of marsh vegetation in roadside ditches, saltwater marshes, rice paddies, hay fields, pasture land, fallow fields, suburban habitats, and even urban parks.

The Red-winged Blackbird is also known for its polygynous social system. Up to 15 females have been observed nesting on the territory of a single male, making this one of the most highly polygynous of all bird species. Recent studies have shown that territory owners do not necessarily father all of the nestlings on their territories, suggesting that females as well as males play the field during breeding season.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.