Blackbird songs have a strange music. The Red-winged Blackbird can be heard in nearly every marsh on the continent — bold, brassy, and piercing. The songs may not seem musical, but they definitely get your attention. Brewer’s Blackbirds, which live in open habitats like farms and
One male Red-winged Blackbird’s marshland territory may include five—or even as many as fifteen—nesting females. And he makes an effort to mate with every one of them. Biologists call this polygyny - when one male claims breeding rights with multiple females. But while this may look like
Some birds woo a mate by building the best nest. Males of many weaverbird species construct a series of intricately woven nests to impress a prospective partner. A male Red-winged Blackbird can even attract multiple mates if he controls prime breeding territory. Adélie Penguins construct
Gordon Orians describes an unusual adaptation in blackbirds called gaping: "...the ability to forcibly open the bill against some pressure, so that a bird can push its bill into the base of a grass clump, and forcibly open it, which reveals the insects that may be down hidden in the base.
Viva Las Vegas -- When explorer Antonio Armijo came upon the place in 1829, he found bubbling springs, abundant beavers, and grassy beaver meadows. No casinos. Armijo named the site Las Vegas – Spanish for “the meadows.” Beavers do much to shape the natural landscape. They fell trees along
As spring begins, the male Red-winged Blackbird brandishes his red epaulets to warn other males away from his patch of cattails. At the same time, he sings to lure females into his marsh...many females, in fact. One male may attract up to a dozen females. The male is dressed for defending
Birds’ voices invite us to step into nature and learn more about the singers. Hearing what’s distinctive in one bird’s voice — compared to another — helps us identify our avian neighbors without seeing them. Amazing! The differences between the songs of three marsh-dwellers: the brassy
It's dawn in a western marsh in mid-summer, and man! Those birds are singin'! The males of more than a dozen species are staking out their territories and attracting mates. One of the noisiest of all is the Red-winged Blackbird. He sings not to attract just one mate, but to gather a whole
Gordon Orians, BirdNote science advisor and blackbird expert, believes we should appreciate nature “simply because of its intrinsic wonder.” He says, “Often people would ask me, 'What good are blackbirds?’ and I would sometimes answer by saying, 'Well, what good is a symphony orchestra?'
BirdNote asked our Facebook fans about the birds they observed in their yards this spring. Some people say they have more birds. Others say fewer. And why? Changes in habitat mean changes in species. In one person’s yard on San Juan Island, in Washington State, more trees mean more Barred
On January 1, 2011, residents of Beebe, Arkansas awoke to find hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds lying dead on their lawns and in the streets. Birds in a nearby roost had all taken off at 10:15 PM, when fireworks shook the windows of nearby houses. They died by colliding with wires, trees
Why are blackbirds black? One possible answer is that black is conspicuous against just about all of Nature's backgrounds. Blackbirds, like this flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and Yellow-headed Blackbirds, feed on the ground. Whenever a predator approaches, they take flight. Coming
The Red-winged Blackbird is a familiar denizen of cattail marshes throughout Washington. In marshes east of the Cascades, Red-wings must share space with a larger cousin, the Yellow-headed Blackbird. The two species don't share evenly. Zoologist and blackbird expert Gordon Orians writes: