Red-Winged Blackbirds (UPDATED)

Saw a pair of these yesterday at Harlem Meer. Never saw this kind of bird in Central Park before. No idea how common it is for them to be here.

UPDATE: Both of them were flashing their red wings, and apparently were thus both males.




  1. Trebuchet says

    Proffe is channeling Dana Hunter! Cool. Any cattails in that lake/pond/meer or whatever it is? Redwings love them. Oh, and the females are kind of brown and streaky.

  2. Vicki says

    I used to see a lot of red-wing blackbirds in and around the salt marsh at the north end of Inwood Hill Park, and near the wildfowl ponds in the Bronx Zoo, so I’m not surprised they were at the Harlem Meer.

    Nice photos–you got the yellow bits of the wing patches.

  3. Lithified Detritus says

    A bit of Googling suggests that they are not uncommon there.
    The males can be a bit aggressive – I’ve had them chase me if I was on their turf while cycling.

  4. ledasmom says

    Judging by the noise, we have thousands of these. I saw at least ten in the park yesterday, more by the road today. Pretty but loud. Lots of both permanent and seasonal water around here.

  5. chrisdevries says

    I used to work at a research station at Delta Marsh, a fairly healthy prairie marsh ecosystem on the south side of Lake Manitoba, an hour west of Winnipeg and these guys loved nesting in the cattails that dominated the landscape. But like Lithified Detritus says, the males were aggressive and territorial, and would dive-bomb me whenever I canoed too close to their nesting site. Usually I would just feel their passing as a swoosh of air beside my ear, but they misjudged their aim a couple times, delivering glancing blows to my head, all the while chirping their displeasure. A quick check of the interwebs tells me that the birds in New York City are probably non-migratory (or with very short migrations), the balmy coastal winters being warm enough for them; birds where I live in the Great White North migrate as far as Mexico after the summer breeding season.

    Incidentally, Delta Marsh is a bird-watcher’s utopia; some 320 bird species have been spotted there, as it represents a convenient place to rest upon the migratory route, and an ideal nesting site for many species; they have (or had, 10 years ago) a catching and banding program which would record up to 200 separate species during the spring migration (I never was present for the fall migration). I still remember one summer, the researchers had to put curious little barriers parallel to, and about 20 cm above the ground beneath their mist nets; apparently the leopard frogs that were in a peak population year were *eating* small birds that were caught low enough in the mist nets. You could watch them hopping in vain as they tried to grab birds, only to be foiled by the rudimentary chicken-wire screen.

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