Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

Red-winged Blackbird Harem

Springtime in the marsh!

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 his territory and attracting a harem; she, for blending into the cattails.

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®
Red-winged Blackbird Harem
Adapted from a script by Frances Wood

This is BirdNote.

[Call of Red-Winged Blackbird]

Welcome to spring! … Let’s step into this lively cattail marsh… and surround ourselves with the sound of glossy black birds with bright red shoulder-patches. These are male Red-winged Blackbirds.

[Call of Red-Winged Blackbird; lots of ambient marsh sound]

The male brandishes his red epaulets to warn away other male Red-winged Blackbirds from his patch of cattails. At the same time, he sings to lure females into his marshy territory… many females, in fact.
While most bird species pair up and become a twosome during the spring breeding season, the Red-winged Blackbird has a different strategy. One male will claim a territory and attract up to a dozen females, to form a harem.

These females look nothing like the males. They’re smaller, with mottled brown backs and heavily streaked bellies.

Each female weaves an intricate nest, often suspended over the water. Scientists examined one nest that contained 142 cattail leaves, 705 pieces of grass, and 34 strips of willow bark.

And while she’s building that amazing nest, the male is busy fending off other males and courting more females for his harem. [Call of Red-Winged Blackbird]

For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

###

Call of Red-winged Blackbird provided by: The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York.
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Sound recordist: W.W.H Gunn
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org     March 2013/2016     Narrator:  Michael Stein

ID # 032205RWBLKPLU  RWBL-01b-2009-03-25-

Sights & Sounds

LEAVE A COMMENT

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

Related topics:

Related field notes:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More