The red-winged blackbird
Breeds in marshes, brushy swamps, hayfields; forages also in cultivated land and along edges of water. Breeds most commonly in freshwater marsh, but also in wooded or brushy swamps, rank weedy fields, hayfields, upper edges of salt marsh. Often forages in other open habitats, such as fields and mudflats; outside the breeding season, flocks gather in farm fields, pastures, feedlots.
Among our most familiar birds, Red-wings seem to sing their nasal songs in every marsh and wet field from coast to coast. They are notably bold, and several will often attack a larger bird, such as a hawk or crow, that flies over their nesting area. The red shoulder patches of the male, hidden under body feathers much of the time, are brilliantly displayed when he is singing. Outside the nesting season, Red-wings sometimes roost in huge concentrations.
To defend his territory and attract a mate, male perches on high stalk with feathers fluffed out and tail partly spread, lifts leading edge of wing so that red shoulder patches are prominent, and sings. Also sings in slow, fluttering flight. One male often has more than one mate. Adults are very aggressive in nesting territory, attacking larger birds that approach, and loudly protesting human intruders. Nest: Placed in marsh growth such as cattails or bulrushes, in bushes or saplings close to water, or in dense grass in fields. Nest (built by female) is bulky open cup, lashed to standing vegetation, made of grass, reeds, leaves, rootlets, lined with fine grass.
Photographer DOUG WORRALL