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Brewer's Blackbird Brewer's blackbird 

Identification and Pictures

(Euphagus cyanocephalus)Brewer's blackbird

Brewer's blackbirds; name after ornithologist Thomas Mayo Brewer, are all black with yellowish eyes, about 8 to 10 inches.  They have a pointed bill, long legs, and a long tail.  In strong sun light they have iridescent, purplish reflections on the head, and neck, and metallic green on the body.  In the winter they may have rusty barring.  The females are brownish gray with a dark eye.  They are often mistaken for European starlings, which have a much shorter tail. 


Photos by Keith Lee.  The camera I use is the Canon EOS 40D.

Songs and calls

The song is a harsh que-ee sound, like a rusty hinge.  They also have a sharp check call.  sound

Range and Habitat

Brewer's blackbirdBrewers range across much of North America, rare in the east.  Birds in the west may stay year round, but those in the north will fly south for the winter.  They may be found in a large variety of habitats such as prairies, open fields, woodlands, marshes, and towns.  They have adapted well to humans, and may be seen in farm lands, parks, golf courses, lawns, and parking lots.

Breeding and Nesting

They are very social birds that nest in loose colonies of up to a hundred birds.  The males will guard colonies from perches.  If predators such as hawks are spotted they will give an alarm call, and often dive at them to make them leave.  The first females to arrive in the nesting area will choose their nest sites, and others will find sites around them.  The nest is built of twigs, course grass, and mud, and lined with fine grass, and hair.  It may be on the ground, in a bush, or in a tree.  The female will lay 4 to 6 heavily spotted eggs, which will vary in color and pattern.  She will incubate them for 12 to 14 days.

Food and Feeding

Natural foods are seeds, grains, insects, spiders, and fruits.  Most foraging is on the ground, but they will all catch insects in the air.  When foraging on the ground, they may flip over stones to look for insects.  They do some damage to fruit in orchards, but they make up for this by eating a large amount of harmful insects.

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