Have you been hearing it? Kon-ka-reeeee! That’s our Red-winged Blackbird and what a great sign of spring! I started hearing the call in the last few days of February but more recently have had a few come to our platform feeder for sunflower seeds.
You can listen to their calls here.
The Red-winged Blackbird is occasionally seen here in Loudoun in winter but really returns as spring starts winding up.
They’re often found in marshy wetland areas and soggy fields. That kon-ka-reeeee call is the male’s song which it will profess from the highest perch it can find. Females are, as is often in the bird world, less showy, making small chit calls as they hunker down in cattails and reeds.
In the springtime, the males start their territorial displays and calls as soon as they arrive at the breeding habitats. In the photo shown here, the male is doing what is called a “songspread”. This behavior is done when establishing territory. When the females arrive, there’s a lot of chasing around through the habitat until they settle down.
Territories are established starting in March with courtship occurring through April and May. The pairs then focus on nesting from late April into June, creating secret nests among reeds and grasses, often hung in mid-air from vertical supports.
When you watch the males, be sure to catch a glimpse of that red wing bar they they are so aptly named for. It’s quite stunning against their jet black feathers.