Red-Winged Blackbird

Abundant and familiar from coast to coast, Red-winged Blackbirds nest in and around marshes in the temperate parts of North America. Outside of nesting season, they wander in flocks through farmland, marshes, forest edge or walk along the ground in open fields. They are distinctive for their bold black plumage and bright red/yellow shoulder patches that are most visible when these birds are in flight. Their song, “o-ka-leeee” is musical in nature and very distinctive in their preferred habitat.

Favorite Foods

In the wild, Red-winged Blackbirds mostly feed on insects and seeds. In the summer, beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders and other insects are the menu of choice. Seeds are another popular choice, including those of seeds and grasses. In your feeders, we suggest CheepersTM seed, a blend of millet, cracked corn and black oil sunflower. FinchWise® with its balanced mix of Nyjer, Fine Hulled Sunflower and Millet is another great choice.

Perfect Feeders

Red-winged Blackbirds are predominantly insect eaters so they will probably be scarce at your feeders. Try a large platform feeder closer to the ground if you are interested in attracting these beautiful birds. You can also try enticing them with one of our suet feeders filled with Wild Bird Center’s Insect Treasure suet!


Red-winged Blackbirds typically nest in the safety of marsh grasses, cattails, bushes or saplings close to the water or in dense grasses in fields. You will probably not see too many of these birds nesting in your backyard unless you live on the water on in a marshy area. The nest, which is built by the female, is an open cup made up of soft grasses, reeds, and leaves. Eggs are pale blue-green with markings of black, brown and purple. Both parents feed the nestlings with the young leaving the nest about 11-14 days after hatching.  

Did You Know?

Red-winged Blackbirds are very territorial of their nesting areas and are often seen chasing off other birds that are much larger than them.

In flight, Red-winged Blackbirds can reach speeds up to 30 mph.