Tricolored Blackbird – Call | Habitat | Range | Endangered | Nesting

Tricolored Blackbird

The tricolored blackbird, scientific name Agelaius tricolor is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae. Its range is restricted to the coastal areas of the Pacific coast of North America, from Northern California within the U.S. (with occasional strays into Oregon), to higher Baja California in Mexico. In this article, I am going to talk about Tricolored Blackbird habitat, range, endangered, female, nesting season, call, etc.

Tricolored Blackbird profile

This extremely social and gregarious bird types the biggest colonies of any North American land bird, with a single breeding colony, usually consisting of tens of hundreds of birds.

The frequent name is taken from the male bird’s distinctive white stripes on the backside of their red shoulder patches, or “epaulets”, that are seen when the bird is flying or displaying.

Despite the same names, this bird shouldn’t be associated with the Old World frequent blackbird, which is a thrush (Turdidae).

The species’ name sounds barely more nasal than that of the red-wing’s – a nasal kip and a pointy verify. The male’s music is a garbled on-ke-kaaangh. The bird migrates south in the course of the colder seasons to Mexico and back to northern California in the course of the hotter seasons.

In California’s Central Valley one other blackbird with red shoulder patches congregates in marshes and croplands, however, it’s the Tricolored Blackbird—simply as dazzling because the Red-winged Blackbird, however a lot rarer.

Gregarious and noisy males flaunt their good red shoulders, very like their more frequent cousin, however, they have a white line beneath the shoulder and a buzzy, nearly catlike music.

Tricolored Blackbirds are declining as a result of in-depth wetland loss and agricultural practices within the farm fields the place they now nest.

While the Red-winged Blackbird is plentiful over a lot of the continent, the very related Tricolored Blackbird has a really small range within the Pacific states.

It differs in its extremely social nesting: in a dense cattail marsh, nests could also be packed in shut collectively, solely a foot or two aside. Some colonies could have over 100,000 nests, though such giant concentrations appear to be rising scarcer lately because the birds shift to smaller (however hopefully more) colonies.

Tricolored Blackbird Size & Shape

From afar, Tricolored Blackbirds have a stocky, broad-shouldered look and when perched usually look humpbacked. Like different members of the blackbird household, they have a slender conical bill and a longish tail. Females are smaller than males.

Color Pattern

Male Tricolored Blackbirds are fully black with a shiny red shoulder patch bordered beneath by a white to the cream-colored band.

Females are darkish gray-brown total with streaked bellies and backs and a cream-colored eyebrow. Immature male birds are brownish-black total with some grey mottling relying on their age.

Tricolored Blackbird Behavior

Tricolored Blackbirds are gregarious birds that are usually seen in giant compact teams year-round. Unlike Red-winged Blackbirds, they nest in tight colonies and sometimes journey away from the colony to search out meals.

During the nonbreeding season, they are a part of flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds, Brewer’s Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, and European Starlings.

Tricolored Blackbird Habitat

Historically Tricolored Blackbirds bred in wetlands nearly completely. Because of intensive losses to wetlands alongside the U.S. West Coast, many now nest in agricultural fields, although some nonetheless breed in remnant marshes.

They forage in and around dairy farms, fields, and wetlands. Look for them in irrigated pastures, dairy farms, rice fields, and feedlots.

Tricolored Blackbird Facts

To say that Tricolored Blackbirds are social birds may be an understatement. Of all passerines in North America, they type the biggest breeding colonies. In the 1930s one colony lined nearly 59 acres and contained round 300,000 birds—about as many as are in your entire present-day inhabitants.

Though they nonetheless type giant colonies, the variety of Tricolored Blackbirds has declined dramatically for the reason that 1930s.

Research carried out within the 1930s estimated that there have been round 2–3 million Tricolored Blackbirds, however now researchers estimate that there are solely around 300,000.

Tricolored Blackbirds aren’t homebodies, they routinely fly as much as Three miles from their breeding websites to search out areas wealthy with meals.

Parents use an intelligent tactic to encourage their younger ones to go away from the nesting colony. They fly to the nest with meals, however, as an alternative of giving it to their younger instantly, they fly away with it, encouraging the children to observe.

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Feeding Behavior

Forages principally whereas strolling on the floor; additionally typically up in shrubs and timber. Usually forages in flocks, notably outdoors the breeding season, usually related to Red-winged Blackbirds, different blackbirds, and starlings.


4, typically 3-5, hardly ever 2-6. Pale blue-green, with markings of black, brown, and purple concentrated at a bigger finish. Incubation is by the feminine, about 11 days.

Young: Both mother and father feed nestlings (however feminine does more). Young go away from the nest about 11-14 days after hatching.


Both mother and father feed nestlings (however feminine does more). Young go away from the nest about 11-14 days after hatching.


Mostly bugs and seeds. Feeds on many bugs, particularly in summertime, together with caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and others; additionally spiders. Especially in fall and winter, eats many seeds of grasses and weeds, and wastes grain.

Other Recommended Reading

Tricolored Blackbird Nesting

Nests in colonies, more densely packed than Red-winged Blackbirds, with nests usually solely a few toes aside. In displaying to draw a mate, male perches on an excessive stalk with feathers fluffed out and tail partly unfold, lifts forefront of the wing in order that red shoulder patches are outstanding, lowers the head, and sings.

Nest: Placed in a marsh in cattails or bulrushes, or in willows at water’s edge, typically in tall growth in drier fields. Nest (constructed by feminine) is a cumbersome open cup, lashed to standing vegetation, manufactured from grass, reeds, leaves, rootlets, lined with effective grass.


Agricultural areas in California’s Central Valley are among the many greatest locations to go in search of Tricolored Blackbirds.

You may want to go to just a few areas before you discover them, however, once you do discover a flock, there will not be a scarcity of birds. During summertime search for them alongside roads passing by means of farmlands and wetlands.

Good locations to verify in California embody Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Little Panoche Road in Fresno County, Lurline Road in Colusa County, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, and Los Banos Wildlife Area. Learn more about monk parakeet.

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