First Redwing of Spring in the Backyard


Don’t get me wrong. I love all of the regular winter clients of my bird feeder. Cardinals, nuthatches, house finches, goldfinches, mourning doves, woodpeckers, juncos, tree and house sparrows and even the villainous Cooper’s hawk.

Yet, there is something very special about that first spring visit from a red-winged blackbird.


It usually happens in the first week of March or so. The males arrive first and you can’t miss the prominent scarlet “shoulder” patches often bordered with yellow. redwing-7

Cattail marshes are the preferred habitat of nesting red-wings but it is an adaptable species and will nest near water in urban areas.redwing-6

After a few weeks of only males, the females arrive and they look nothing like the males.


The usual song of territorial males is a rich “o-ka-lee” and they call frequently. I have been on spring nature walks during which we constantly heard the calls of red-winged blackbirds for 3 hours.


After the breeding season, the birds gather with other blackbirds in flocks sometimes numbering in the hundreds or thousands or millions.

Occasionally some redwings will over-winter in the Toronto area. We had a flock of about a dozen this winter at Rattray marsh on January 30.


Welcome back!

Miles Hearn

1st Redwing of 2018: February 21



One thought on “First Redwing of Spring in the Backyard

  1. Marilyn Leeds

    Hi Miles
    I had a redwing over a week ago under my feeder. He was beautiful. How did you keep the starlings from ravaging your feeder?
    Marilyn Leeds



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