Female Red-winged Blackbirds on Reeds, Newark, Delaware

In Albums: Newark, DE birds wetlands

Two female red-winged blackbirds on reeds, showing mostly camoflaged patterning, streaked breasts and striped face, and dark tail, with some green visible in the background

May 6th, 2006, by Alex Zorach

This photograph shows two female red-winged blackbirds perched on reeds growing in a drainage pond on the University of Delaware's campus in Newark, Delaware, behind the Harrington dorm complex.

This drainage pond was created primarily to reduce runoff, but it had a side benefit of creating this wetland habitat, which was utilized by numerous different species. Red-winged blackbirds bred in this pond at least one of the four years that I lived in Delaware but due to changing water levels, I noticed that the amount of blackbirds in and around the pond changed a lot in different years.

Female red-winged blackbirds bear little resemblance visually to the males of the same species. They are camoflaged, and show streaked breasts and a black-and-white striped pattern above the eye. Although their patterning is somewhat suggestive of sparrows, their overall shape and structure, especially the bill and tail, betray their true nature as blackbirds. They are also sometimes confused for starlings, especially when foraging in grass in flocks.

This picture inspired a painting of female red-winged blackbirds by Kelsey LeClair.