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Red-winged Blackbird - Agelaius phoeniceus

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S5B

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3
PIF: 3


 

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Copyright by: The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Medium-sized, sexually dimorphic blackbird with medium-length, slender bill. Male displays delayed plumage maturation; third-year and older male is glossy black with "epaulets" of red (for which species is named) bordered with yellow on wrist (bend) of wing. Second-year male is highly variable in plumage, from female-like brown with heavily streaked breast to black with brown flecks; epaulets are also variable, typically red-orange with brown or black spotting. Female also shows some delayed plumage maturation, but less than male. All females are mottled brown above and heavily streaked below with a prominent white eyebrow stripe. Third-year and older females are variable in throat (pink to buffy) and epaulet (dull orange to bright red-orange) color. Second-year females are less variable, throat and face light pink, epaulets brown to salmon (Yasukawa and Searcy 1995).

General Distribution
Montana Range



Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 12153

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

Breeding
(direct evidence "B")


Breeding
(indirect evidence "b")


No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")


Overwintering
(regular observations "W")


Overwintering
(at least one obs. "w")



 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
In the Bozeman area, normal migration periods are from March 10 to April 5 and September 20 to October 20.

Habitat
Breeds in a variety of wetland and upland habitats. Wetland habitats include freshwater marsh, saltwater marsh, and rice paddies. Upland breeding habitats commonly include sedge meadows, alfalfa fields and other crop lands and old fields. Roosts in habitats with dense cover (Yasukawa and Searcy 1995).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
During the nonbreeding season, diet is primarily plant matter. During breeding season, diet is primarily animal matter with some plant matter (Yasukawa and Searcy 1995).

Reproductive Characteristics
Nests are commonly placed in wetland, upland, and agricultural habitats, occasionally in urban parks and suburban habitats. Nest is an open cup. Eggs are typically oval. Pale blue-green to gray in color, overlaid with streaks, blotches and spots. Mean clutch size varies from 2.43 to 3.70 (Yasukawa and Searcy 1995). Near Fortine, egg dates range from May 27 to June 15. Statewide, nesting is from mid-May through June.

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
    Do you know of a citation we're missing?
    • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
    • Besser, J.F., J.W. DeGrazio, J.L. Guarino, D.F. Mott, D.L. Otis, B.R. Besser, and C.E. Knittle. 1984. Decline in breeding red-winged blackbirds in the Dakotas, 1965-1981. J. Field Ornithol. 55: 435-443.
    • Casey, D. 2000. Partners in Flight Draft Bird Conservation Plan Montana. Version 1.0. 287 pp.
    • Decker Coal Co., 1981, Wildlife survey. July 7, 1981. In North Decker 5-Year Permit Application. Vol. III. Rule 26.4.304(12-14).
    • Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
    • Dobkin, D.S. 1994. Conservation and management of neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. Univ. Idaho Press, Moscow, Idaho. 220 pp.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Graham, Dean, and Craig Swick., 1977, A Field evaluation of the cyclone seeder for reducing Richardson ground squirrel populations causing damage in central Montana . August 1977.
    • Hutto, R. L. and J. S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-32. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 72 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P. A. 1992. Birds of the Rocky Mountains with particular reference to national parks in the northern Rocky Mountain region. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. xi + 504 pp.
    • Johnsgard, P.A. 1979. Birds of the Great Plains: breeding species and their distribution. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln. 539 pp.
    • Johnson, D.H. and L.D. Igl. 1995. Contributions of the Conservation Reserve Program to populations of breeding birds in North Dakota. Wilson Bull. 107(4): 709-718.
    • Kmieciak, R. 2004. Red-winged blackbird and bullfrog. Colorado Birds 38(2):91.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Lawrence Park, Kalispell, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.008. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Plentywood - North Wetland Mitigation Site, Sheridan, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.024. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Circle Mitigation Site, Circle, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.039. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Perry Ranch, Glacier Co., Montana. Proj. No. 130091.020. May 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2002: Rey Creek, Three Forks, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.014. February 2003. In 2002 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
    • Maxim Technologies, Inc., Helena, MT., 1999, Wetlands Study Report Dry Prairie Rural Water. November 1999.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Saab, V.A. and T.D. Rich. 1997. Large-scale conservation assessment for neotropical migratory land birds in the interior Columbia River Basin. T. M. Quigley, ed. USDA F.S., Pacific NW Research Station. Portland, OR. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-399. 56 pp.
    • Stewart, R.E. 1975. Breeding birds of North Dakota. Tri-College Center for Environmental Studies, Fargo, North Dakota. 295 pp.
    • U.S. Forest Service. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States: Natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Agricultural Handbook 688. 625 pages.
    • VTN Environmental Sciences, Sheridan, Wyoming for Montana Dept. of State Lands, 1973, Environmental Analysis Decker Coal Company Mine, Decker, Montana.
    • Waage, Bruce C., compiler., 1984, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Rosebud County, Montana: Annual Wildlife Monitoring Report, 1983 Field Season. June 1984.
    • Western EcoTech, Helena, MT., 1999, Wetland delineation report for the Haskins Landing Proposed Wetland Mitigation Area. MWFE? June 2, 1999.
    • Western Energy Co., Colstrip, MT., 1982, Western Energy Company Rosebud Mine, Colstrip, Montana: Annual Wildlife Report, 1982.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Lavina Wetland, Lavina, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.030. February 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. I.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Rey Creek, Three Forks, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.014. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Roundup Wetland, Roundup, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.031. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Wetlands West, Inc., Bozeman, MT., and Land & Water Consulting, Inc., Missoula, MT., 2002, Montana Dept. of Transportation Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Report, Year 2001: Vince Ames, Red Lodge, Montana. Proj. No. 130091.033. July 2002. In 2001 Wetland Mitigation Monitoring Reports, Vol. II.
    • Yasukawa, K. and W.A. Searcy. 1995. Red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). In A. Poole and F. Gill (eds.), The Birds of North America, No. 184. Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington D.C.: The American Ornithologists Union.
    • Yasukawa, Ken, and William A. Searcy. 1995. Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). Species Account Number 184. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
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Citation for data on this website:
Red-winged Blackbird — Agelaius phoeniceus.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on July 31, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/detail_ABPBXB0010.aspx
 
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