Red-Winged Blackbirds: Sounds of Summer

Male Red-Winged BlackbirdOne of my favorite sounds of spring and summer is the call of the Red-Winged Blackbird. To me it says rural Iowa countryside. It says home, summer, hay fields, ponds, cat tails, raspberry patches and wild roses.

A very common bird, most people are familiar with the male of the species with it’s black plumage and bright red patch on his wing.

But few would easily recognize the female since she is neither black nor does she have a red stripe. She is very subdued and camouflaged in her basic brown attire. Some would say she looks more like a large sparrow.

The Red-Winged Blackbirds like to nest in Female Red-Winged Blackbird
marshy areas and near ponds.

Once the nesting has started, watch out! The male Red-Winged Blackbird are very territorial!

We’ve actually had them dive bomb our heads and fly in close circles around us trying to distract us from their mates and their nest sight.

The males are really quite fun to watch because they use many gestures that we can actually understand.

One of these is called the “songspread’ when the male arches forward, spreads his wings to the side and shows off his bright red patches on each wing. This is a sign of dominance and is usually directed at other males.

Another one to watch for is when two males are perched near each other with their bills tilted up in the air. This is called the “bill tilt’ and is basically a standoff that allows them to settle territorial disputes without fighting.

Enjoy those Red-Winged Blackbirds and their antics, listen for their call and know that warm weather has finally come!