• • •Red-winged Blackbirds are hard to mistake, clinging to reeds in the wind or perched on fence posts in almost every fresh or saltwater wetland, field or brushy area. They are among the most common birds in parks and refuges along the Gulf Coast.
The male is glossy black all over, with a red and yellow patch emblazoned on its shoulder. The female looks more like a large brown sparrow with a streaked breast and white eyebrow. Unlike most female birds, she sings, though a different song than the males.
They eat mostly insects in the summer and roost in small groups; in winter, they forage for seeds, congregating in flocks with hundreds or thousands of birds that may include grackles and starlings.
A familiar sight is a male defending its territory by singing loudly from its perch while spreading its wings wide to expose its red patch.
Females spend more time hidden among the vegetation, constructing elaborate, layered nests of reeds, wood, leaves and mud, lined with grass. They place their nests among the reeds or in low shrubs and lay three to five pale, blue-green eggs. During breeding season, male birds will mate with as many as a dozen females in his territory, though some of the females often mate with other males.