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3-18-19 red-winged blackbird IMG_2331While Red-winged Blackbirds are present year-round in southern New England, their return is one of the key indicators that spring has sprung further north. Males have just started appearing in northern New England, and females will follow shortly. Hearing these harbingers of spring is as delightful as seeing them.

Both males and females have a repertoire of songs and calls. The male redwing has nine distinct song types, the most familiar of which is its “konk-la-ree” song. Females have three main categories of much shorter songs.

The male sings throughout the year, but most frequently during the breeding season when territories are being established. In addition, he uses this song to initiate female courtship behavior once she is settled on his territory. Initially the female redwing does not answer the male’s song, but she does so frequently once she becomes a regular resident of his territory.

Singing is obviously a successful procreation strategy for male Red-winged Blackbirds, for up to 15 females have been observed nesting on the territory of a single male (although he does not necessarily sire all of the offspring).

To hear Red-winged Blackbird songs and calls, go to (Photo: singing male Red-winged Blackbird)

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8 responses

  1. Dan Poor

    Last Thursday we had 6 male red-wing blackbirds on our feeders and one bluebird! They have not been sighted again, but it is only a matter of time.

    March 18, 2019 at 8:02 am

  2. Tom Stearns

    Hi Mary,

    Been hoping to see this one day and snapped this recently. Thought you’d enjoy it too.


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    March 18, 2019 at 8:16 am

  3. Janet Crystal

    Mid-Cape I’ve been hearing them for about three weeks. And last week, I heard/saw my first grackles.

    March 18, 2019 at 8:23 am

  4. Alice Pratt

    ……and such well-placed colors on their wings…

    March 18, 2019 at 8:36 am

  5. Dell Waterhouse

    Perfect timing – I just heard and spotted our first redwings yesterday, here in Worcester,VT (where there’s still LOTS of snow on the ground!)
    I may try to start filling my feeders again. I gave up on them a couple months ago, because I seemed to be feeding mostly one very fat squirrel, and I could no longer get out through the icy snow piles up to my chest on my deck. But I guess I can get out there from another door, and I do love seeing those red wing-stripes up close…

    March 18, 2019 at 9:05 am

  6. jennifer sawyer

    Good morning Mary… theses past two weeks in Portsmouth I’ve been seeing flocks of red-winged blackbirds… your photo is a treasure… Also the Bohemian waxwing… I thought I’d been seeing Mrs. Cardinal and I have , but one was a bit larger… never saw the yellow on tail so❓.

    Your photos and blogs are treasures/ gifts to us all … THANKYOU so much.. Jenny Sawyer

    Sent from my iPad


    March 18, 2019 at 9:18 am

  7. Nora

    Beautiful photo of him! A photo of him zooming in exposing full red epaulets would complete the spring thrill.

    March 18, 2019 at 9:46 am

  8. Linda Burdick

    I guess spring has sprung! They are so pretty—love that elegant patch of red. L.


    March 18, 2019 at 12:34 pm

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