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Nature Journal - Echoes of Spring: The Red-winged Blackbirds!

Even though we have multiple ponds, Red-winged Blackbirds only visit us occasionally, and it seems they prefer our feeder over the water sites—a sign that we need to work harder to plant more tall grass and improve our marsh area to attract them to stay.


Initially, I didn't care much for them, as they seemed to be just big birds that came to eat and leave. This impression changed when we visited Vancouver this spring and walked around the beautiful Beaver Lake. It was the first time we heard their songs. Many people might find them too loud and vocal, but I was fascinated by their energy and the varying tones. Their high-pitched and almost metallic flute sounds echo among the tall grasses in the marsh, giving the lake a vivid and lively charm.





Fun Facts:


  • Polygyny Extravaganza: In the avian world of courtship, red-winged blackbirds stand out. Dominant males can court and mate with many females, often leading to a single male having up to 15 females nesting in his territory.

  • Distinct Dialects: The songs of red-winged blackbirds vary by region, creating distinct "dialects." These subtle variations in their calls are a testament to their intricate communication patterns.

  • Epaulet Etiquette: The male's bright red shoulder patches, or "epaulets," aren't just for show. They can be strategically concealed or displayed, whether to assert dominance or avoid confrontations in another male's territory.

  • Nomadic Gatherings: Post-breeding season, these blackbirds can form massive mixed flocks. Sometimes, they join other blackbird species, grackles, and starlings in these colossal gatherings.


  • Nest Evolution: Demonstrating remarkable adaptability, red-winged blackbirds adjust their nesting preferences based on past experiences. If a nest is parasitized one year, they may opt for more concealed sites the next.


Wildlife Garden Tips:


1. Waterside Planting: Accommodate their nesting instincts by cultivating tall grasses and reeds alongside any water features in your garden.

2. Diverse Feed: Set up feeders with sunflower seeds and grains. They'll provide a supplementary banquet for these adaptable birds.

3. Natural Ground Covers: Embrace native plants and grasses. These double as shelter and a bountiful food source.

4. Freshwater Sources: Position shallow bird baths or dishes with clean water. A simple hydration haven for these birds to quench their thirst and indulge in a splash.

5. Safety First: To ensure a thriving habitat, refrain from using pesticides. This ensures both their safety and a rich menu of insects.


Reference Links:

- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: https://www.allaboutbirds.org/

- Audubon Society: https://www.audubon.org/

- Bird Watching HQ: https://birdwatchinghq.com/




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