Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Young Red-winged Blackbird at Morris Arboretum

Tracy Beerley, The McCausland Natural Areas Horticulturist
Colonies of red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) arrived at the Morris Arboretum in early Spring. Within the Arboretum the birds are most common in the wetland and floodplain area.

The female spends three to six days building a nest constructed with grasses, sedges, mosses, and lined with mud. A clutch of eggs are incubated by the female and typically hatch in eleven to twelve days, the young birds are ready to fledge the nest two weeks after hatching.

This young fledgling is trying out his legs and wings for the first time. A male red-winged blackbird is watching overhead. You can hear his alarm call as he warns possible predators. The alarm call and nesting in groups are traits that reduce the risk of individual predation by increasing the number of alert and vocal parents.
Femal Red-winged Blackbird. Photo credit: Ruth Pfeffer
Male Red-winged Blackbird. Take note of the distinct red shoulder patch on the male. Photo credit: Ruth Pfeffer

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