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Yellow-headed Blackbird


Range in North America and parts of Central America.


The Yellow-headed Blackbird is found in freshwater marshes during the summer. They particularly like to live amongst cattails, tule, and bulrush. During migration and over the winter months, the Yellow-headed Blackbird is found in open, cultivated lands, in fields, and in pastures.


The male has a bright yellow hood and black body. A white patch on his wing can be seen both while perched or flying. The female\\\'s coloring is more subdued with a duller-yellow throat and breast. The rest of the females body is grayish-brown, and has white streaks extending down the breast. Juveniles are similar in appearance to the females.

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Yellow-headed Blackbirds feed by getting insects and seeds from plants and from the ground, and by hawking insects in the air. To forage, they push their bill into the ground for a food item and force it out. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are strongly territorial during the breeding season. They prefer nesting in marshes above water two to four feet deep. Their nests are usually clumped in a different part of the marsh from the Red-Winged Blackbird who prefer nesting over shallower water. During fall migration, males often form flocks that are separate from the females and young. Over the winter, the Yellow-headed Blackbird forms enormous flocks with other species of birds.


Breeding season lasts from February through August. Yellow-headed blackbirds commonly nest in marsh or prairie habitat. The female builds a cup-shaped nest about 1-2 m (3-6 ft) above ground or water. She weaves the nesting material, usually grasses or reeds, into several upright cattails, reeds, or grasses for support. The female lays 3 - 4 greenish-blue eggs with brown spots, which she incubates for 11 days. Both parents feed the nestlings for 14 days. Then the young fledge from the nest. Yellow-headed blackbirds are often polygamous.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Click to View Bigger Picture
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Native Utah Animal
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Class: aves
Genus: Xanthocephalus
Species: xanthocephalus
Length: Both males and females are 9.5 inches long
Weight: 65 grams
Average Lifespan: 4
Wild Diet: Insects ,seeds, spiders, grass, and forb seeds. This blackbird can be seen foraging in fields, meadows, ranches, agricultural areas, and farms.
USFWS Status: Not Listed
CITES Status: Not Listed

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