Yellow-headed Blackbirds are making their presence known

May 15th, 2012 · by Daniela Ogden

We wrote about the first arrivals of the Yellow-headed Blackbird back in March, but we are impressed at how the sightings keep pouring in. The brightly headed bird is hard to miss and its distinctive creaky call sounds like it would be better placed in the soundtrack of a Boris Karloff movie. The bird is more sensitive to the cold than its relative the Red-shouldered Blackbird, but the two bird types do share breeding grounds during the spring and summer.

Large flocks of Yellow-headed Blackbirds arrive at breeding grounds in groups segmented almost painstakingly down to each bird’s sex and age.┬áMature males migrate first so they can claim their own territory, mature females migrate two weeks later, then juvenile males, and lastly juvenile females. If a male Yellow-headed Blackbird secures a desirable territory he may be able to woo and reproduce with as many as six female partners. Males also will play “step-father” to a mate’s offspring.

A typical Yellow-headed Blackbird will complete 24 migrations in its lifetime (fall and spring).

(Photo by Peter LaTourrette)

Categories: Pacific Flyway · Pacific Migration

One Comment so far ↓

  • Steve Willer

    Forget warblers, thrushes, kinglets, nothing trumpets the melody of spring like the male yellow-headed blackbird. (tongue in cheek)