Fauna Flora Photography

Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus

A small but aggressive bird nesting along the shores of ponds and rivers and which doesn't hesitate to attack larger birds when this one gets too close to the nest.



Common Names

EnglishRed-winged Blackbird
FrenchCarouge à épaulettes
SpanishTordo sargento


SpeciesAgelaius phoeniceus

How to Identify

Males are black with a red patch on each side of the wing. Female are about the same size but have brown and white feathers. Both color and behavior help to identify this species.

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Parc Bernard-Landry - 2022-05-22
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Parc des Rapides - 2018-05-05
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Parc Angrignon - 2017-04-09
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Parc des Rapides - 2016-06-19
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) - Parc Angrignon - 2015-04-18

Red-winged Blackbird Trivia

Is the Red-winged Blackbird a migratory bird?

Yes, this species is indeed migratory. However, it's worth noting that some populations are resident year-round.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird have the same plumage for both sexes?

No. Males sport entirely black feathers adorned with scarlet-and-yellow shoulder patches, whereas females display a more subdued, dark brown coloring.

Is the Red-winged Blackbird polygamous?

Yes, this species indeed follows a highly polygamous mating system. A single male can have as many as 15 different females nesting within his territory.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird eat only insects?

No, its dietary preferences can shift seasonally. The diet includes seeds, grains, fruits, insects, spiders, worms, snails, and even small frogs and fish.

Is the Red-winged Blackbird one of the most numerous land birds?

Yes, in North America it ranks among the most numerous land birds, with an estimated population exceeding 200 million individuals.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird exhibit any social behaviors?

Yes, it displays various social behaviors, including the formation of large flocks during winter, communal roosting at night, and cooperation with other birds to mob predators or intruders.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird possess a complex vocal repertoire?

Yes. Males use songs for attracting females and signaling warnings to other males, while females use short calls for communication with their mate or chicks.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird face any predators?

Yes, this bird species has many predators, including hawks, owls, crows, ravens, snakes, raccoons, mink, and cats. Notably, the eggs and nestlings are particularly vulnerable to predation.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird possess physical adaptations for wetlands?

No, the bird lacks typical physical wetland adaptations like long legs and bill. Nonetheless, during breeding season it's commonly found in wetlands, along the shores of rivers, lakes, and ponds.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird have a long lifespan?

No, this bird species has a relatively short lifespan. On average, in the wild, it lives for about 2 years, with the maximum recorded lifespan being 16 years.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird nest in colonies?

No, the Red-winged Blackbird is not known for nesting in colonies. While they do densely inhabit areas around ponds or lakes, their nests are usually quite spaced apart.

Does the Red-winged Blackbird have any subspecies?

Yes, indeed, the Red-winged Blackbird is known to have at least 22 subspecies, with most of them displaying a nearly identical appearance. These subspecies primarily vary in terms of size, shape, and the coloration of their shoulder patches.

Where and When to Spot

Best season to watch Red-winged Blackbirds is early spring. This species is one of the first migratory birds to arrive and it settles along the shores of ponds and rivers when males are usually arriving first and fiercely defend their small territory. This bird can be seen in all parks around Montreal where there is some natural habitat along waters.

Boisé Des Douze x - - -
Jardin Botanique de Montréal x x - -
Parc Angrignon x x - -
Parc Bernard-Landry x - - -
Parc Nature Pointe aux Prairies x - - -
Parc de la Frayère x x - -
Parc des Rapides x x - -
Parc Île-de-la-Visitation x - - -

Where and when a species has been observed, identified, and recorded.

Videos of Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)

Last updated on 2023-12-15. Written and regularly updated by Karl-Heinz Müller, Dipl. Natw. ETH, Biology. With 10 years of experience in wildlife photography, Karl-Heinz shares first-hand, on-site collected observations, photos and videos from his frequent visits to parks in the Montreal area.