Black Birds With Red Wings (What Species?)

In the bird world, especially in woodpeckers, the mix of black and red is rather frequent. Nonetheless, there is really just one bird in the United States that meets your criteria: black birds with red wings. The list includes both Canada and the United States. A red-winged blackbird is one of them.


The red-winged blackbird is distinguished by its complete lack of red feathers on the “shoulder” of its wings, which distinguishes it from other varieties of red birds with black wings. The American redstart is a bird that comes in second place, but its crimson coloration on the wing is orange rather than crimson, as the name implies.

The red-winged blackbird was named scientifically in 1766, making it one of the most thoroughly studied North American birds. Because of its broad range and successful adaptation to human-affected environments, it has been the subject of numerous scientific studies.

You can keep reading to learn more about this species of blackbird.


In North America, the only black bird with crimson wings is the red-winged blackbird. It’s a blackbird that eats seeds and insects, and it lives in marshes.

You’ve almost certainly seen or heard a red-winged blackbird, whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or are just starting to learn about these feathered marvels. They are difficult to miss, and they frequent agricultural regions.


The distinctive glossy black body and bright red wing patch are only seen in males. When the bird perches, the patch can be seen both in flight and on land. Since he spreads his wings out somewhat to make himself seem bigger while singing, it is especially apparent.

A bright scarlet patch runs across the top wing, with a stripe of yellow and white on the bottom edge bordering it. They might occasionally fold up their gorgeous wing coloring, hiding a enormous red patch in favor of just a modest stripe of crimson and yellow.

Females have a distinct appearance. They blend easily into brush and reeds due to their heavy streaking with cream and brown all over. On the upper corner of their wing, they have a tiny red hint that is typically disguised. They’re difficult to detect, and juveniles are a common mistake. Until male juveniles start to molt into their adult plumage, the young birds resemble females.

Males average around 9 in (23 cm) long and 2.3 oz (64 g), while females average around three quarters the size of males. Females are about the size of a big sparrow, which is around. Males are somewhat bigger than females.


California has a unique variation, dubbed the “California Bicolored,” that differs slightly in color. The wing of males is completely red, with no yellow border. Females have less streaking and are darker than males.


The North American continent is home to red-winged blackbirds. In suburban yards and open areas, particularly in the spring, they are very common. Throughout most of the United States, as well as Canada’s west coast and sections of Mexico, populations may be seen year-round.

They are only seen throughout the spring and summer in most of Canada, northern New England, and regions around the Great Lakes. Some populations winter in western Mexico, choosing to fly from southern Canada and the northern Great Plains.


Red-winged blackbirds prefer swamps, fields, and locations near water sources such as ponds and drainage ditches created by humans. They’ll almost always find a freshwater source wherever they go.

The likelihood that blackbirds will discover consistent insect populations increases when they are near water. During the breeding season, it also serves as a safe place for nestlings.

She follows his suggestion for where to build the nest inside his territory once she meets her chosen partner. In damp, soggy places, red-winged blackbirds prefer to construct their nests of reeds and stems.

She accepts his guidance on where to build the nest inside his territory once she has mated with her chosen partner. In swampy, soggy places, red-winged blackbirds prefer to construct their nests among reeds and stems.

To create a platform, which serves as the nest’s foundation, the female skillfully weaves plant materials around thick stems. Moreover, she makes a nest cup out of moist leaves and mud, which is topped with soft rotting wood. She uses soft grasses to line the inside of the nest cup after it has dried. She only then becomes ready to lay her eggs.

The eggs of this species are blue or green. Females generally produce three to four eggs in a clutch. The female does more than her male partner in caring for the nestlings, which she does alternately.


Both insects and seeds are eaten by red-winged blackbirds. In the spring and summer, they concentrate on insects, then in the fall and winter, they focus on seeds.

Large fields and marshes are ideal bug-hunting grounds during the summer. While flying, they may case flies, or while strolling among cattails and lilypads, they may probe for them. Both hunting on the water’s surface and perching on top of reeds and cattails, red-winged blackbirds are accomplished.

They’re frequently seen traveling in big flocks after the breeding season ends, looking for seeds that may include numerous species, such as starlings and grackles.

Since the size and noise of these blackbirds’ flocks can scare away other birds, attract them to your backyard by providing a variety of feeding areas. If you have the space, provide cracked corn in an area away from your main feeders. They’ll also visit most types of mixed seed feeders as long as the perch is big enough for them to get a foothold. They prefer feeding from platforms. Suet-eating red-winged blackbirds are also known to wadge on suet cages with no problem.

Wheat fields and mills are common places for Red-winged Blackbirds to be seen in the wild. When farmers move product between trucks, silos, and rail cars, they consume the discarded and wasted seeds that fall on the ground.


Red-winged blackbirds are considered pests by some birdwatchers, but they’re welcome backyard guests by others.

Males are loud and obvious during the breeding season, which runs from April to the end of July. If he’s part of a migratory flock, a single bird will claim his area before the females arrive and fiercely defend it against both bird and animal. Intruders into their territory are even known to be intimidated.

The male starts to dance when he finds a female. The mating display of a red-winged blackbird looks like this:

  • The male selects a lofty perch, such as a fence post, a reed, or a wire, from which he has a birds-eye view of his surroundings.
  • He spreads his tail and exposes his crimson shoulder patches by extending his wings out around him.
  • He belts out the title phrase of Audubon’s “O-ka-leeee!” song.

Males are more ‘assistive’ to their partners after they have attracted a female. Since he may have up to 15 mates in a single breeding season and is too busy to help feed the young, the blackbird father will assist with feeding them.


The social and outspoken nature of red-winged blackbirds is often symbolic. These birds are said to be totems or spiritual counselors for individuals who need guidance and assistance in their daily decisions, according to some.

Some people believe the red-winged blackbird represents three important traits.


One of the characteristics that the bird represents is having a true and genuine voice, which is why its loud and distinctive cry goes without saying. These blackbirds are chatty, curious, and willing to speak their minds.

A red-winged blackbird’s song may serve as a nudge to keep your values and protect those close to you, even if you’re in a mass.


Red-winged blackbirds may travel in flocks of up to a million birds when they migrate! Keeping a group of that size successful in traveling together and finding food requires a lot of cooperation and ability.

This characteristic of the red-winged blackbird may be a reminder to work with others at times in order to achieve our goals. Understanding, hearing, and collaboration are all skills that may help you progress.


Fables starring animals were used to tell parables that children and adults could remember and apply to real events in their lives in Medieval Europe, before many people could read. The red-winged blackbird was occasionally used to symbolize sin and temptation hundreds of years later in North America.

The vibrant color contrast of a black body and a brilliant red wing patch captivated American poets and storytellers. Some claim that Cain, who murdered his brother Abel in a rage, is represented by the blackbird. The blood that was shed in the first murder ever committed is represented by the red patch on the bird’s shoulder.

Some people think of the blackbird as a foreshadowing of doom. The horror stories and folklore of witches often include blackbirds. Blackbirds are said to bring bad luck, according to old wives’ tales. Most birds that are black in color, such as crows and ravens, have a maybe unlucky destiny.


  • Carolus Linneaus, the first scientist to use a Latin nomenclature system for creatures, was the first to name red-winged blackbirds.
  • The red-winged blackbird has 24 subspecies. The groups are distinguished by minor variations in size and proportions, as well as the sites of their wintering grounds, according to scientists.
  • Male red-winged blackbirds have epaulets on their shoulder patches. This name comes from historical European military uniforms from the 18th and 19th centuries, which featured ornate shoulder decorations.


The red-winged blackbird’s natural history may come as a surprise. These little-known yet instantly recognizable songbirds have a far larger impact on today’s society than we realize. They eat waste seeds that would build up in agricultural regions and provide insect control.

Why not put out some seed or cracked corn if you’re ready to see more of these dynamic, gregarious birds? There’s something special waiting for you. Red-winged blackbirds are the sound of summer for many individuals who have lived near fields or wetlands.

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