British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide
Description - The male Red-Winged Blackbird
is a glossy black with red shoulder patches which are
tipped with a buffy-yellow. The female is dark brown above,
heavily streaked below and sometimes has a red tinge on
the wing coverts or a pinkish wash on the chin and throat.
A rich, musical "o-ka-leeee!" characterizes the voice
of this bird.
Distribution - The red-winged blackbird breeds from
Alaska east across Canada and south from northern Baja
California to Florida. Wintering grounds range across
the U.S.A. north to British Columbia. They inhabit marshes,
swamps, pastures and wet and dry meadows.
Biology - Red-winged blackbirds feed on insects, small
fruits, seeds, waste grain and small aquatic life. Often
regarded as pests because they consume grain in cultivated
fields, the farmer actually benefits because of the blackbirds
consumption of harmful insects. A typical nest of the
red-winged blackbird is a well-made cup of marsh grass
or reeds which is attached to growing marsh vegetation
or in a bush in a marsh; it contains 3-5 pale blue eggs,
spotted and scrawled with dark brown and purple.