Conk-la-ree! Red-winged Blackbirds are back, folks


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One of our most common and charming native birds, Red-winged Blackbirds have returned to our latitude about two weeks ahead of schedule. Eighteen males were seen on a recent walk, staking out territory across a few acres of marshy, prairie habitat. Red-winged Blackbirds—especially males—are easy to see around wetlands and meadows, and they’ve adapted to nest throughout the cornfields of the Midwest.

By the numbers

🐦‍⬛ 5

Red-winged Blackbirds are highly polygynous, and males on average have around five mates at any given time.

🐦‍⬛ 73,222

The number of records of Red-winged Blackbirds during the Bird Conservation Network’s 20-year study of breeding birds in Chicagoland. It was by far the most abundant species, with American Robins next at 19,799.

🐦‍⬛ 142

The number of cattail leaves used to weave a single Red-winged Blackbird nest found by a naturalist in the 1930s.

🐦‍⬛ 1

Female Red-winged Blackbirds arrive in the north approximately one month later than males in springtime.

🐦‍⬛ 14

Young are hatched blind and naked but leave the nest within just 14 days.


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Screening alerts 🚨

I’ll be showing “Fluddles” on Tuesday, March 5, at 7 p.m. in Freeport, Ill., in partnership with Northwest Illinois Audubon Society. The screening takes place at St. John United Church of Christ, 1010 South Park Boulevard, at the edge of the Driftless Region.

I’ll be showing “The Magic Stump” on Wednesday, March 6, at 7 p.m. at Riverside (Ill.) Public Library, 1 Burling Road. Join us for a free showing at this landmark public library on the banks of the Des Plaines River. Registration information is here.

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Bob Dolgan