Return of the Red-wings

Master of the Marshes

The Red-winged Blackbird’s slow, stalling flight, with epaulets exposed, tail spread, and head downward… ends with a glide to a perch within his territory.

The male spends his days affirming his presence inside his claimed portion of this wetland.

Proclaiming space along the edge of the lake. His colors looking good among the Weeping Willow twigs.

Glossy black plumage brings greater contrast with his bright wing decorations. This breeding black male has scarlet epaulets bordered with yellow or buff.

The redwing flutes his O-ka-lee”  –  Ralph Waldo Emerson’s description of the song.

Calls: a loud “check” and a high, slurred “tee-err

Song: a liquid, gurgling “konk-la-ree” or “o-ka-lay

Female Red-winged Blackbird is smaller than the male, with heavy streaking on her breast and abdomen. 

Leaning over and fanning his tail. Showing constant vigilance in his territory. The male selects the site and defends it against other males.

Nice profile of the female: brownish, with sharply pointed bill, eyestreak, wingbars, and well-defined streaking on breast.

Nice landing on a vertical perch; the ever-present cattails. At home in the marsh.

Female may have a slight pinkish tinge on her throat. She arrives a few weeks after the male;  accepts the site, and the male.

Fabulous display; the male flashes and quivers his spectacular red and yellow epaulets, while fanning out his tail.




Calls of the Red-winged Blackbird from Cornell Labs: (Cornell)

Red-winged Blackbird – Agelaius phoeniceus

Photo Locations:

Cannonsburg,  (Cannonsburg)  Michigan

Rogue River,  (Rogue River)  Rockford,  (Rockford)  Michigan

Pickerel Lake Park,  (Pickerel Lake)  Kent County,  Michigan (Michigan



2 thoughts on “Return of the Red-wings”

  1. Valerie:

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    Richard Havenga


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