Red-winged Blackbird A beautiful North American bird

The Agelaius phoeniceus more commonly known as the red-winged blackbird is a fascinating bird that is classified as a bird from the Icterid family. This bird has many fascinating adaptations, such as the ability to fight off predatory birds that are larger than itself (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017). Red-winged blackbirds are migratory birds and just like many other birds they move north during the summer time and south for the winter (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017). While it is summer, red-winged blackbirds breed and raise their young in a habitat that protects them for many months to come.


The red-winged blackbird just like all other birds has adaptations. These adaptations in appearance and behavior help it survive and reproduce.

Feathers (structural adaptation)

  • Male have bright red feathers that are located on their shoulders (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).
  • The red feathers help with attracting mates (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).
  • Male red-winged blackbirds also fluff up their feathers to help with keeping predators away. This works because the feathers not only act as a feature for attracting mates but they also signal predators to stay away (“Red-winged Blackbird 2017).
  • Females have feathers that are a mix of a dark gray and brown. The colors are dull so that she can watch over the nest without being noticed (“Red-winged blackbird”).
  • Both females and males are capable of defending the nest. This is very helpful because if one of the birds are out getting food or gathering items such as bark and plants for the nest then there is always one bird to protect the nes (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2015).

Singing (behavioral adaptation)

  • The red-winged blackbird not only uses its feathers to attract mates. It also will sing to attract mates (“Red-winged blackbird”).
  • Singing will alert other red-winged blackbirds if he or she is in danger and is stuck somewhere or being attacked (“Red-winged blackbird”).
  • Singing also helps the red-winged blackbird to defend its territory against other animals (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).

Beak (structural adaptation)

  • Red-winged blackbirds have a bill that is slender, short and sharp.
  • The bill is slender to pry open and eat plants (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2015).
  • This birds beak is short and sharp to eat insects (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).

Migration (behavioral adaptation)

  • In winter the red-winged blackbird can be found in open fields and it migrates in flocks (“Red-winged blackbird”).
  • Red-winged blackbirds migrate north for summer so they do not get very hot during the summer. They go south for the winter so that they do not freeze (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).


Birds can only live in places that have the resources that they need. For example the red-winged blackbird needs a habitat in which it can hide during the breeding season and in the winter time the red-winged blackbird needs a habitat in which it can find food easily. In the summer the Agelaius phoeniceus tends to be in marshes (“Red-winged blackbird”). This is due to all the plants that grow in a marsh. These plants, such as cattails, provide the red-winged blackbird with a spot to hide while breeding and protecting its eggs (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2015). The plants hide the red-winged blackbird and thus it is less likely to be attacked. Now, when it is not breeding season this bird tends to stick to hayfields, pastures, urban parks (“Red-winged blackbird”).


Birds also need to be in a specific climate to be able to survive. That is why most birds migrate and can be found throughout a region during the course of year. Now, the red-winged blackbird can be found anywhere in America. It can also be found in the northern areas of Mexico during the winter and it can be found in the southern areas of Canada during the summer (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).

Range Map
Range Map Key


All animals need to eat something to live. Without food no organism would survive. The red-winged blackbird is a bird that can eat many other organisms ranging from insects to plants. The insects that the red-winged blackbird eats consist of caterpillars, beetles, spiders, snails, and worms (“Red-winged blackbird”). The plants that this bird eats consists of grass, weeds, waste grain, and waste grain (“Red-winged blackbird”). Since most plants will be dead and insects will be in hiding during winter the red-winged blackbird will mainly eat seeds during the winter months (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2015).


Some predators of the red-winged blackbird include raccoons, birds of prey (sharp-shinned hawks), snakes (northern water snake), weasels, skunks, and foxes (“Red-winged blackbird”). This bird has many predators meaning it must always be on the lookout for danger.

Northern Water Snake

Sybiotic Relationships and Competition

As previously mentioned there are some organisms that help the red-winged blackbird survive. On the other hand there are other animals that make it harder for the red-winged blackbird to survive and collect resources. When two organisms work together to survive or one helps the other survive it is called a symbiotic relationship. When other organisms make it harder to survive and contend for resources it is called competition.

Symbiotic relationships

Commensalism (when both animals are benefited)

  • The marsh plants give dense foliage so that the red-winged blackbird can hide it’s nest their. This is commensalism because the plants are not being harmed or benefited while the red-winged blackbird is being benefitted (“Red-winged blackbird”).
  • Humans set up bird feeders outside of their houses. The red-winged blackbirds come and eat this food. This is commensalism because the red-winged blackbirds are being benefitted as they are getting food but the humans are not being harmed or benefitted (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2015).

Parasitism (when one animal is benefited and the other is harmed)

  • The Brown-headed Cowbird punctures holes in the Red-winged Blackbird’ eggs and then lays it’s own in the Blackbird’s nest for the Blackbird to raise (“Red-winged blackbird”).
Brown Headed Cowbird


  • Humans use the red-winged blackbird to control pest population since the red-winged blackbird eats insects. Here both the humans and the red-winged blackbirds are being benefitted because the red-winged blackbird gets something to eat and the humans’ crops are saved (“Red-winged blackbird”).


Interspecific (competition within members of a species)

  • Compete with other red-winged blackbirds for mates. These birds compete for mates by displaying their feathers and singing. After doing their displays the males leave it up to the females to decide who to mate with (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).

Intraspecific (competition between members of different species)

  • Fight off other birds for territory (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).
  • Competes with tricolored blackbird, marsh wren, and yellow-headed blackbird for food (“Red-winged Blackbird” 2017).

Field Guid Pages

Full Feild Guid Page
Mini Feild Guide Page

I am a 7th Grade Student at Oak Middle School. This page was created as a part of our project called Bird is the Word. During this project our team partnered with the Mass Audubon Society and Broad Meadow Brook to create educational materials for their fundraising event called the Bird-a-Thon. Each student chose a bird to study. My bird was the red-winged blackbird. Below are some resources that I created along with my classmates. For more information about this project and other birds please visit

Works Cited

Camfield, Alaine. “Sharp-shinned hawk.” BioKids, U of Michigan, Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.

Gillilland, Merritt. “Northern Water Snake.” BioKids, U of Michigan, Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.

Hammond, George. “Carabes, ground beetles.” BioKids, U of Michigan, Accessed 12 Apr. 2017.

“Red-winged Blackbird.” All About Birds, Cornell University, 2015. Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

“Red-winged Blackbird.” Audubon Bird Guide: North America, e-book, National Audubon Society, 2017.

“Red-winged blackbird.” BioKids, U of Michigan, Accessed 3 Apr. 2017.

Created By
Akash K.


Created with images by PublicDomainImages - "something attention its" • synspectrum - "Red-wing blackbird" • Raja12 - "red-winged blackbird" • warpmike - "red-winged blackbird sparrow bird red-winged" • donjd2 - "Female Red-winged Blackbird" • Barni1 - "reed grass green" • NASA Goddard Photo and Video - "Blue Marble 2000" • quinet - "Eating out of my hand" • Just chaos - "Perigrine Falcon" • edbo23 - "raccoon animal wildlife forest woods nature cute" • digitalprimate - "fox" • NOAA Photo Library - "line2248" • Frank Boston - "Red-winged Blackbird II" • kengi2000 - "Brown-headed Cowbird"

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