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Red-winged Blackbird

Agelaius phoeniceus

Description:

Male Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) calling at Green Cay Wetlands, Boynton Beach, Florida. << The common name for the Red-winged Blackbird is taken from the mainly black adult male's distinctive red shoulder patches, or "epaulets", which are visible when the bird is flying or displaying. At rest, the male also shows a pale yellow wingbar. ... The male's song is a scratchy oak-a-lee, accompanied by a display of his red shoulder patches. >>

Habitat:

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. Claims have been made that it is the most abundant and most well studied bird in North America. 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 is one of 11 species in the genus Agelaius and is included in the family Icteridae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America. The Red-winged Blackbird was originally described as Oriolus phoeniceus by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. but was later moved with the other American blackbirds to the genus Agelaius (Vieillot, 1816. The genus name is Latin derived from the Ancient Greek, agelaios, meaning "belonging to a flock". The species name, phoeniceus, is from the Latin word meaning "deep red". There are a number of subspecies, some of doubtful status, which are mostly quite similar in appearance, but the 'Bicolored Blackbird' A. p. gubernator of California and central Mexico is distinctive. The male lacks the yellow wing patch of the nominate race, and the female is much darker than the female nominate. The taxonomy of this form is little understood, with the relationships between the two isolated Bicolored populations, and between these and Red-winged still unclear. Despite the similar names, the Red-winged Blackbird is not related to the European Redwing or the Old World Common Blackbird, which are thrushes (Turdidae). The common name for the Red-winged Blackbird is taken from the mainly black adult male's distinctive red shoulder patches, or "epaulets", which are visible when the bird is flying or displaying. At rest, the male also shows a pale yellow wingbar. The female is blackish-brown and paler below. The female is smaller than the male, at 17–18 cm (7 in) length and 36 g (1.2 oz) weight, against his 22–24 cm (9.5 in) and 64 g (2.2 oz). Young birds resemble the female, but are paler below and have buff feather fringes. Both sexes have a sharply pointed bill. The tail is of medium length and is rounded. The eyes, bill, and feet are all black. The male is unmistakable except in the far west of the US, where the Tricolored Blackbird occurs. Males of that species have a darker red epaulet edged with white, not yellow. Females of Tricolored, Bicolored, Red-shouldered and Red-winged Blackbirds can be difficult to identify in areas where more than one form occurs. In flight, when the field marks are not easily seen, Red-winged can be distinguished from less closely related icterids such as Common Grackle and Brown-headed Cowbird by its different silhouette and undulating flight. The call of the Red-winged Blackbird is a throaty check and a high slurred whistle, terrr-eeee. The male's song is a scratchy oak-a-lee, accompanied by a display of his red shoulder patches. The female also sings, typically a scolding chatter chit chit chit chit chit chit cheer teer teer teerr. The range of the Red-winged Blackbird stretches from southern Alaska to the Yucatan peninsula in the south, and from the western coast of California and Canada to the east coast of the continent. Red-winged Blackbirds in the northern reaches of the range are migratory, spending winters in the southern United States and Central America. Migration begins in September or October, but occasionally as early as August. In western and middle America, populations are generally non-migratory. The Red-winged Blackbird inhabits open grassy areas. It generally prefers wetlands, and inhabits both freshwater and saltwater marshes, particularly if Typha (cattail) is present. It is also found in dry upland areas, where it inhabits meadows, prairies, and old fields. (credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red-winged_............)

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1 Comment

MelissaFerguson
MelissaFerguson 9 years ago

Great photo's!

JackEng
Spotted by
JackEng

Boynton Beach, Florida, USA

Spotted on Feb 11, 2012
Submitted on Feb 13, 2012

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