Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbirds are birds that I associate with spring, the males begin calling perched on top of reeds, cattails, grasses and shrubs and flash their brightly colored coverts to attract a mate.

Male Red-winged-black-birdMale Red-winged Blackbird (Agelius phoeniceus) – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/350, ISO 250, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the most abundant songbirds in North America. They prefer marshes and wetlands and build cup-shaped nests woven with grasses and mud.

Female Red-winged Blackbird with nesting materialFemale Red-winged Blackbird with nesting material – Nikon D200, handheld, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 200, Nikkor 80-400mm VR at 400mm, natural light

When I photographed the female Red-winged Blackbird above I had been walking on a narrow path through a stand of mangroves to get to a tidal lagoon to photograph shorebirds there when I heard a rustling sound and this female with nesting material in her bill popped up from the ground to perch on the top of the mangrove. I took a few pictures and quickly went on my way. I didn’t want to disturb or disrupt her from building her nest.

Lately I have heard the Red-winged Blackbird males calling more frequently, it won’t be long before they begin the nesting season in earnest.



  1. Dave Sparks March 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm

    Wonderful shots Mia. The BG is great for both birds. The exposure on the male is perfect … not implying anything wrong with the exposure of the female, but it is the male that is so difficult.

    • Mia McPherson March 4, 2012 at 3:30 pm

      Dave, those males ARE a challenge to expose right! Thank you for commenting.

  2. Robert Mortensen March 2, 2012 at 11:41 am

    Again, you are able to get just the right focus and camera settings for those challenging black birds. Lovely!

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:28 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment Robert.

  3. Laurence Butler March 2, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Lovely birds. I love their metallic calls. It’s funny you mention they’re a spring bird for you. Here in Arizona I associate them with fall and winter months since that’s when we get them.

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:30 pm

      Laurence, yes, they would be fall and winter birds for you. I hadn’t thought about it that way because we have them pretty much all year long but they sing the loudest in the spring.

  4. Julie G. March 2, 2012 at 8:46 am

    Beautiful crisp, clear captures of the lovely Red-winged Blackbirds! Just last week I heard the calls of RWBB in the marsh behind our property. I took a trip back there and spotted several handsome males. Not a female in sight yet. Your photographs are outstanding, as always!

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:32 pm

      Julie, I haven’t seen any females yet either, it shouldn’t be too long. Thanks so much for your very kind comment.

  5. judy watson March 2, 2012 at 6:40 am

    I just can’t get a good shot.
    You have an awesome sharp photo of them!

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:33 pm

      Thanks Judy, I’m sure you will get the shots you want soon.

  6. Tammy Karr March 2, 2012 at 6:32 am

    Outstanding photos Mia! The colors and detail are amazing! They are such beautiful birds. They are quite abundant at the wetlands here right now.

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:34 pm

      Thanks very much for your comment Tammy. They are very beautiful birds.

  7. Julie Brown March 2, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Male RWBBs are an exposure challenge, and you nailed it as usual. The nesting material in the female’s bill is cute. Love the backgrounds on both of these shots. I’ve got to come back later and look at all of your previous posts when I have more time!

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:44 pm

      Thanks for commenting on these images Julie. Males are a challenge, I’ve dumped a lot of badly exposed photos of them. The backgrounds in both images include the Gulf of Mexico.

  8. Dan Huber March 2, 2012 at 4:27 am

    I agree with Julie, nice as always to see the settings you use. I have them starting their territory calls here already. No females spotted yet though.

    • Mia McPherson March 2, 2012 at 6:37 pm

      Thanks as always for your comments Dan. No females here yet either.

Comments are closed.