|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|The Red-winged Blackbirds are back in force. This time of year, the male Red-wings come north to establish their territory before the females start arrive. Last weekend I had 11 male Red-wings at the the feeder at one time. Once the territory is established, they are very aggressive about protecting it. I have been flown at as I rode my bike through a birds territory.|
The Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus) is a passerine bird of the family Icteridae found in most of North and much of Central America. It breeds from Alaska and Newfoundland south to Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, Mexico and Guatemala, with isolated populations in western El Salvador, northwestern Honduras and northwestern Costa Rica. It may winter as far north as Pennsylvania and British Columbia, but northern populations are generally migratory, moving south to Mexico and the southern United States. The Red-winged Blackbird is sexually dimorphic; the male is all black with a red shoulder and yellow wing bar, while the female is a nondescript dark brown. Seeds and insects make up the bulk of the Red-winged Blackbird's diet.
The Red-winged Blackbird is one of 11 species in the genus Agelaius and is included in the family Icteridae, which is made up of passerine birds found in North and South America. The Red-winged Blackbird was one of the many species originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work, Systema Naturae. The genus name of the Red-winged Blackbird, Agelaius, is Latin derived from the Ancient Greek, agelaios, meaning "belonging to a flock". The species name, phoeniceus, is from the Latin word meaning "deep red".
Rear view of A. p. gubernator, the "Bicolored Blackbird", where the lack of a yellow band can be seen.
There are a number of subspecies, some of doubtful status, but the 'Bicolored Blackbird' A. p. gubernator of California and central Mexico is distinctive. The male lacks the yellow wing patch of the nominate race, and the female is much darker than the female nominate. The taxonomy of this form is little understood, with the relationships between the two isolated Bicolored populations, and between these and Red-winged still unclear. Despite the similar names, the Red-winged Blackbird is not related to the European Redwing or the Old World Common Blackbird, which are thrushes (Turdidae).
The common name for the Red-winged Blackbird is taken from the mainly black adult male's distinctive red shoulder patches, or "epaulets", which are visible when the bird is flying or displaying. At rest, the male also shows a pale yellow wingbar. The female is blackish-brown and paler below. The female is considerably smaller than the male, at 17-18 cm (7 in) length and 36 g (1.2 oz) weight, against his 22-24 cm (9.5 in) and 64 g (2.2 oz).
Young birds resemble the female, but are paler below and have buff feather fringes. Both sexes have a sharply pointed bill. The tail is of medium length and is rounded. The eyes, bill, and feet are all black.
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