Sisters Country birds


Last updated 2/6/2024 at 10:47am

Photo by Douglas Beall

Red-winged Blackbird.

The Red-winged Blackbird [Agelaius phoeniceus], is now arriving around Sisters and feeding until they head to mostly wetland areas to begin building nests. After two to six pale blue-green eggs are laid the young hatch in only 10 to 12 days. The young, being fed on insects and seeds, leave the nest in 11 to 14 days. Two to three clutches may be laid every year. The Red-wing can be very protective of their nesting areas and will attack hawks and crows from above, diving with their red and yellow epaulets spread out and visible.

They are polygamous and males will attract up to 15 females around his territorial nest sites. The Red-winged Blackbird will use its brilliant epaulets by spreading its wings for a full show of color when in breeding territory or hiding the colors when feeding in a flock during the non-breeding seasons. This dulling of the red and yellow patches allow the birds to feed in flocks peacefully. From 1966-2014 their population has fallen from 190 million to 130 million, mostly due to habitat destruction. Red-winged Blackbirds are the most widely distributed species in the U.S and Canada with up to 20 subspecies identified.

A group of Red-wings are known as a "merl," "cluster," or a "cloud." For more Red-winged Blackbird images, visit


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