With its bright red shoulders and loud, piercing konk-la-ree call, the male Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius phoeniceus, is an unmistakable and easily recognizable bird of the marshes and wetlands of North America.
The male Red-winged Blackbird's flashing red patches and noisiness are part of its strategy to claim and defend a territory as well as attract a mate. A showy and rowdy male can claim a large territory and attract a number of females.
The young male (left) somewhat resembles the adult female (right.) It will gradually turn completely black and develop the striking red shoulders. It can take a couple of years before it boasts its full plumage. The female looks completely different from the male with a heavily streaked underside and noticeable eyebrow. Once she has been courted by the male, she builds a nest of woven dried cattail leaves and grass. The nest is constructed hidden in the cattails or on the shore.
The Red-winged Blackbird prefers to live in cattail marshes, damp fields or meadows. It feeds on seeds, invertebrates, insects and berries. It is about 7-9.5 in/18-24 cm long, with the female being a bit smaller.