Red-winged Blackbird....I Dedicate This Photo to My Dear Friend Pam, I call her……….”Dances With Birds”...I Can’t Take A Photo Of A Bird Without Thinking Of Pam...Pam Is A Great Nature Photographer And A Great Friend
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The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)
is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae found in most of North and much of Central America. It breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Guatemala, with isolated populations in western El Salvador, northwestern Honduras and northwestern Costa Rica. It may winter as far north as Pennsylvania and British Columbia, but northern populations are generally migratory, moving south to Mexico and the southern United States. The Red-winged Blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown. Seeds and insects make up the bulk of the Red-winged Blackbird's diet.
The Red-winged Blackbird nests in loose colonies. The nest is built in cattails, rushes, grasses, sedge, or in alder or willow bushes. The nest is constructed entirely by the female over the course of three to six days. It is a basket of grasses, sedge, and mosses, lined with mud, and bound to surrounding grasses, or branches. It is located 7.6 cm (3 in) to 4.3 m (14 ft) above water.
A clutch consists of three or four, rarely five, eggs. Eggs are oval, smooth and slightly glossy, and measure 24.8 x 17.55 mm (1 x .7 in). They are pale bluish green, marked with brown, purple, and/or black, with most markings around the larger end of the egg. These are incubated by the female alone, and hatch in 11 to 12 days. Red-winged Blackbirds are hatched blind and naked, but are ready to leave the nest 11-14 days after hatching.
Red-winged Blackbirds are polygynous, with territorial males defending up to 10 females. However, females frequently copulate with males other than their social mate and often lay clutches of mixed paternity. Pairs raise two or three clutches per season, in a new nest for each clutch.
Predation of eggs and nestlings is quite common. Nest predators include snakes, mink, raccoons, and other birds, even as small as marsh wrens. The Red-winged Blackbird is occasionally a victim of brood parasites, particularly Brown-headed Cowbirds. Since nest predation is common, several adaptations have evolved in this species. Group nesting is one such trait which reduces the risk of individual predation by increasing the number of alert parents. Nesting over water reduces the likelihood of predation, as do alarm calls. Nests, in particular, offer a strategic advantage over predators in that they are often well concealed in thick, waterside reeds and positioned at a height of one to two meters. Males often act as sentinels, employing a variety of calls to denote the kind and severity of danger. Mobbing, especially by males, is also used to scare off unwanted predators, although mobbing often targets large animals and man-made devices by mistake. The brownish coloration of the female may also serve as an anti-predator trait in that it may provide camouflage for her and her nest (while she is incubating). Owls and diurnal raptors are both regular predators of adults.