Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Red Winged Blackbird

Male Red Winged Blackbird (Source)
I chose today's animal because I quite like it. I grew up seeing them everywhere, and I've always loved their striking wing colors. Red Winged Blackbirds live all over North America in marshes, fields and meadows. They are one of the most abundant bird species on the continent, with numbers of nearly 200 million.

One thing I have learned in writing this post is that only the males of the species have the distinguishable red and yellow band. Females aren't even black! They have a brown, mottle appearance, which aids to camouflage them and is a coloration found in several other species of bird. Juveniles also have a similar coloration to the adult females. Red Winged Blackbirds vary in color based upon their location. For example, in areas where they overlap with a similar looking species, the Tricolored Blackbird, males have lost their yellow band. They feed off of insects, seeds, and grains.
Female (Source)

Some populations are migratory, but others remain in their habitats year round. While making their migration, Red Winged Blackbirds can travel at speeds of about 30mph. During the breeding season males fiercely defend their territory, and will mate with multiple females within it. Each partnering produces 2-3 chicks per season. Both parents protect the nesting area. Outside of the breeding season they live in large flocks that sometimes intermingle with other species and number into the thousands.

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