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Red-winged Blackbirds Returning to Northern New England

Except for the coast, most of northern New England doesn’t see many Red-winged Blackbirds during the winter months.  Numbers usually start increasing the last week of February with males arriving before females.  In the fall it’s the reverse, with males departing after females.

Practically as soon as male Red-winged Blackbirds return, you can hear them singing and see them displaying as they claim their territories.  If you could tell the females apart, you might well recognize some of them, as research shows that nearly half of the females return to the previous year’s territory.

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5 responses

  1. Alice

    I think it’s amazing, that some birds return to the same area. I’m pretty sure ‘our’ Hummingbirds do, because the nectar feeders are so sheltered.

    February 28, 2020 at 9:13 am

  2. Evergreen Erb

    I’ve been keeping “return” records for spring birds for over thirty years, and this is by far the earliest I have seen them return. There have been some years when they haven’t returned to my part of Jericho until the end of March! They are very weather dependent in their migration, unlike say, Eastern Phoebes, who almost always arrive around April 5th. From what I’ve read, it has partly to do with where they overwinter. The closer they are to here, the more they can gauge their timing, whereas birds that come further have it programmed in them when to return. At least that’s what I’ve read and been taught.

    February 28, 2020 at 9:33 am

  3. shielaswett

    This is so timely! A pal told me just yesterday that loads of red-winged blackbirds were suddenly THERE in her back yard,. “Right in schedule”, said she!
    Mary, did you go to the talk at the Dartmouth Schience Center entitled “Plant Intelligence”? I looked for you! The only prblem was HEARING the two speakers, one of whom was Italoian and her accent as well as soft voice made things difficukt for me, alas… You may have read Richard Powers’ “The Overstory”? He was one of the speakers and I WISH I could have heard every word he had to say :-((
    Sat next to a gal who works at UVLT and knows our land well, and LOVES waliking there :-))
    Miss oyu. When it warms up, let’s US have a walk there…

    February 28, 2020 at 11:05 am

  4. Heard my first one last Monday! Two weeks earlier than my previous record.

    February 28, 2020 at 8:41 pm

  5. Clay Smith

    Hi Mary,

    I’m visiting my parents (Dudley and Julie Smith) in Hanover. We are all big fans of yours.

    My parents have been finding piles of semi-decomposed leaves, berries and twigs on top of the snow in the field behind their house. Several appear every week or so, with no tracks around them. My father initially described then as similar to loose owl pellets.

    Attached is a photo of one. Do you have any idea what it is? Many thanks for all you do, and for any ideas you might have on this.

    Clay Smith

    Sent from my iPhone


    February 29, 2020 at 12:24 pm

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