Yellow-headed Blackbird – Facts | Call | Range | Habitat | Migration

Yellow-headed Blackbird

The yellow-headed blackbird, scientific name Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus is a medium-sized blackbird and the one member of the genus Xanthocephalus. In this article, I am going to talk about Yellow-headed Blackbird call, range, habitat, migration, etc.

Yellow-headed Blackbird profile

With a golden head, a white patch on black wings, and a name that seems like a rusty farm gate opening, the Yellow-headed Blackbird calls for your consideration.

Look for them in western and prairie wetlands, the place they nest in reeds instantly over the water. They’re simply as spectacular in winter when large flocks appear to roll throughout farm fields.

Each bird gleans seeds from the bottom, then leapfrogs over its flock mates to the entrance fringe of the ever-advancing troupe.

Yellow-headed Blackbird males are strikingly plumaged with their shiny yellow heads and breasts contrasting sharply with their black wings tail and remaining body plumage.

The feminine’s sole similarity is her boring or buffy yellow throat and breast. During the breeding season these birds eat and feed their younger aquatic prey (primarily bugs), however after the younger birds are impartial, giant flocks of Yellow-headed Blackbirds forage in agricultural areas and open nation for waste grain and seeds of untamed vegetation, returning at night time to roost within the emergent vegetation of wetlands. These flocks normally embody different blackbird species.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Description

The male Yellow-headed Blackbird is spectacular to see, however, to not hear: it could have the worst music of any North American bird, a hoarse, harsh scraping.

Yellow-heads nest in noisy colonies in massive cattail marshes of the west and midwest; when not nesting, they collect in flocks in open fields, usually with different blackbirds. At some favored factors within the southwest in winter, they might be seen in flocks of hundreds.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Distribution

During the 1987-1992 discipline work of the TBBA undertaking, researchers discovered Three confirmed, Four possible, and 5 attainable breeding data within the High Plains area. All however one in all these data are in counties talked about by these authors as being the one breeding websites for this species in Texas.

Elsewhere the species breeds from British Columbia and the Canadian prairies south to the decrease southwestern deserts between the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountains on the west and Wisconsin, central Nebraska and central Kansas.

In winter a lot of the inhabitants strikes south to the desert southwest of the United States and mainland Mexico south to the Isthmus of Tehuantepec.


Length: 8.3-10.2 in (21-26 cm)
Weight: 1.6-3.5 oz (44-100 g)
Wingspan: 16.5-17.Three in (42-44 cm)

Adults have a pointed bill. The grownup male is especially black with a yellow head and breast; they have a white wing patch typically solely seen in flight.

The grownup feminine is especially brown with a boring yellow throat and breast. Both genders resemble the respective genders of the smaller yellow-hooded blackbird of South America.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Breeding

The breeding habitat of the yellow-headed blackbird is cattail (Typha species) marshes in North America, primarily west of the Great Lakes. The nest is constructed with and hooked up to marsh vegetation.

They nest in colonies, usually sharing their habitat carefully with the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). During the breeding and nesting season, the males are very territorial and spend a lot of their time perched on reed stalks and displaying or chasing off intruders.

Yellow‐headed blackbirds have been discovered to be delicate to nest predation danger, for instance by marsh wrens Cistothorus palustris, and alter their nest attendance behavior accordingly.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Migration

These birds migrate within the winter to the southwestern United States and Mexico. They usually migrate in large flocks with different species of birds.

The sole areas of the United States the place these blackbirds are everlasting residents are the San Joaquin Valley and the Lower Colorado River Valley of Arizona and California.

It is a particularly uncommon vagrant to western Europe, with some data suspected to consult with escapes from captivity.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Habitat

These birds forage within the marsh, in fields, or on the bottom; they generally catch bugs in flight. They primarily eat seeds and bugs. Outside the nesting interval, they usually feed in flocks, usually with associated species.

This bird’s music resembles the grating of a rusty hinge.


4, typically 3-5. Pale grey to pale green blotched and dotted with brown or grey. Incubation is by feminine solely, 11-13 days. Young: Both mother and father feed nestlings.

Young go away nest after about 9-12 days, however, stay amongst dense marsh vegetation till they’re able to fly, about Three weeks after hatching. 1 brood per year, probably 2.


Both mother and father feed nestlings. Young go away nest after about 9-12 days, however, stay amongst dense marsh vegetation till they’re able to fly, about Three weeks after hatching. 1 brood per year, probably 2.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Diet

Mostly bugs and seeds. Feeds closely on bugs in summer, particularly beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers, additionally ants, wasps, and others, plus just a few spiders and snails.

Young are fed principally bugs. Probably two-thirds of the diet consists of seeds, together with grass and weed seeds plus waste grain.

Feeding Behavior

Forages principally by strolling on the bottom in open fields or close to the water’s edge; additionally forages low in marsh vegetation.

Sometimes catches bugs in flight. May observe farm equipment in fields to feed on bugs and grubs turned up by the plow. Except in nesting season, normally forages in flocks, usually related to different blackbirds.

yellow headed blackbird song yellow headed blackbird meaning yellow headed blackbird habitat orange headed blackbird yellow headed blackbird range yellow headed blackbird male and female orange yellow headed blackbird yellow headed blackbird diet

Yellow-headed Blackbird Nesting

Typically nests in colonies in marshes, every male choosing territory inside the colony and defending it in opposition to rivals by singing. One male could have as many as 5 mates.

Nest: Placed in the marsh, firmly lashed to standing vegetation (cattails, bulrushes, reeds) rising in water, normally no more than 3′ above water’s floor.

Nest (constructed by feminine) is a cumbersome, deep cup woven of aquatic vegetation, lined with dry grass or with effective, dry marsh vegetation.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Identification

In the Midwest and West, search for Yellow-headed Blackbirds each in freshwater wetlands and in close by farm fields.

Though they’re hanging in look, these birds spend a considerable time perched out of view in cattails or reeds, so hear for his or her harsh verify calls and weird grinding, buzzing songs as a way to pinpoint their location.

When looking out in farm fields, search for giant concentrations of blackbirds after which scan them fastidiously. If the majority of the birds are Red-winged Blackbirds or another species, don’t despair—give attention to discovering a white wing patch or yellow head among the many different species.

Other Recommended Reading

Yellow-headed Blackbird Facts

  1. The Yellow-headed Blackbird usually nests in the identical marsh because of the Red-winged Blackbird. The bigger Yellow-headed Blackbird is dominant to the Red-winged Blackbird and displaces the smaller blackbird from the prime nesting spots. The Yellow-headed Blackbird is strongly aggressive towards Marsh Wrens too, most likely due to the egg-destroying habits of the wrens. When the Yellow-headed Blackbird finishes breeding and leaves the marsh, Marsh Wrens develop into former blackbird territories.
  2. The male Yellow-headed Blackbird defends a small territory of prime nesting reeds. He could entice as many as eight females to nest inside his space. The male helps feed nestlings, however normally solely within the first nest established in his territory. The different females should feed their younger all by themselves.
  3. In 1825 Charles Lucien Bonaparte, nephew of Napoleon Bonaparte gave the first detailed description of the Yellow-headed Blackbird, which was collected in 1820 by Thomas Say and Sir John Richardson.
  4. Because Yellow-headed Blackbirds at all times construct their nests over the water, nestlings typically fall in and should swim brief distances to vegetation.
  5. Pleistocene fossils of Yellow-headed Blackbirds (from 100,000 years ago) have been dug up in California, New Mexico, and Utah.
  6. Yellow-headed Blackbird’s scientific name, Xanthocephalus, means “yellow head.”
  7. The oldest Yellow-headed Blackbird on file was no less than 11 years, Eight months old. It had been banded in Saskatchewan and was present in Nebraska. Learn more about Fischer’s lovebirds.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *