Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Woman holding binoculars Join today and get outside at one of our 60+ wildlife sanctuaries.
Red-winged blackbird on reed
Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbirds

The most common and widespread members of the blackbird clan in Massachusetts are the Red-winged blackbirds. Their voices chorus around nearly every marsh and pond in the state during the spring and summer, and the vivid epaulets of the displaying males, make it clear where the bird’s name originated. 

How to Identify Red-winged Blackbirds  

Red-winged blackbirds are smaller than robins but larger than sparrows, coming in at just below 9” in length. Both sexes have sharp black bills, but their plumages are quite distinct. 

Males are solid black with red shoulder patches. The shoulder patches are bordered with a line of yellow at the bottom, and the birds can conceal the shoulder patches when they wish, leaving only the thin line visible. Females resemble large sparrows but can be recognized as this species by their sharp bills, orange-washed faces, and heavy, regular streaking below. 

Pictures of Red-winged Blackbirds

  • Red-winged blackbird with breath marks
    Red-winged Blackbird ©Hasitha Botenne
  • Female red-winged blackbird on reed
    Female Red-winged Blackbird ©Mark Rosenstein
  • Red-winged Blackbird with wings spread
    Red-winged Blackbird © Bill Tippin

Red-winged Blackbird Call

Red-winged Blackbird Status

Although they remain common and widespread as breeders in Massachusetts, there is evidence that red-winged blackbirds may be undergoing a decline in numbers. Interestingly, winter sightings of this species appear to be on the increase.

How Mass Audubon is Supporting Birds in Massachusetts

Mass Audubon works at our wildlife sanctuaries and beyond to ensure that the nature of Massachusetts continues to thrive. By scientifically monitoring Massachusetts birdlife, Mass Audubon informs important conservation decisions and launches targeted initiatives to help at-risk species. In addition, fostering healthy habitats, supporting native species, and educating people about the importance of nature conservation is critical to our success. Learn more about our work

How You Can Support Birds in Massachusetts

Mass Audubon supports birds like the Red-winged Blackbird every day, but we couldn’t do it without the support of our 160,000+ members.      

Help support Red-winged Blackbirds, and birds like them, by becoming a member today.      

Join Mass Audubon