There are many types of blackbirds in America and abroad. Blackbirds have flown into arts and culture in many ways over the years: poems, nursery rhymes, songs. But, in January 2011 these jet black feathered friends have nested in the news. These unexplained events have spawned much conversation online at at the water cooler.
Let’s take a closer look at this blackbird species– the most common of all North American birds:
Red-winged Blackbirds are American
Red-winged blackbirds, with their distinct red and yellow shoulders, are native to North America.
Red-winged Blackbirds are Polygynous
The male red-winged blackbird has many female mates. According to AllAboutBirds.org, these feathered fellas could have up to 15 female mates.
Red-winged Blackbirds May or May Not Migrate
Red-winged Blackbirds have different migrating habits, depending upon which part of the continent they call home. Some birds from Canada and the northern United States fly south for the winter, up to 800 miles from home. Common winter destinations for migrating birds include Pennsylvania and the Great Lakes region. Other red-winged blackbirds, mainly in the United States, are year-round residents.
Red-winged Blackbirds Really Flock Together
Red-winged blackbirds roost in flocks all year but these groups are extremely large in the winter months. In fact, these congregations-which often include other species of blackbirds–can be as large several million birds. During the day, the blackbirds separate to feed but reform the flock at night.
Red-winged Blackbirds have a Nickname
The flocking habits of all American blackbirds have earned them the nickname “troupials,” which comes from the French word “troupe.”
Red-winged Blackbirds Like Wetlands
Red-winged Blackbirds prefer habitats near water or croplands, including marshes, meadows and alfalfa fields.
Red-winged Blackbirds Have Varied Diets
The eating habits of red-winged blackbirds change with the season. In the summer insects are on the menu, while in the winter they feast on corn and wheat seeds. In the fall, red-winged blackbirds enjoy weedy seeds, sunflowers and waste grains. Those red-winged blackbirds living in wetland areas will also look for mollusks, grubs and snails.
Red-winged Blackbirds Are Fast and Hot
Migrating red-winged blackbirds can travel at over 30 mph. Their average body temperature is 102 degrees Fahrenheit.
Red-winged Blackbirds Have Eyes Like a Bird, But Not a Nose Like a Dog
These birds have excellent vision and hearing, but they have a very poor sense of smell.
Red-winged Blackbirds Gender Discriminate
Well, kind of. Male red-winged blackbirds fly back north ahead of the females in the spring, and fly south after the females in the winter. They do not fly together.