On 20 April 2016, one of the most curious birds that John Holden and I saw at Dakota County’s 180th Street Marsh was one of the most common. Red-winged Blackbird are abundant. Males sang atop many of the cattails. Among them was a female bird that was apparently defending territory.
Ornithologists are not sure if female Red-wings hold territories. Males are famously polygamous and females are aggressive towards each other. Some researchers maintain that females hold sub-territories within the male territory. But these sub-territories seem to overlap, and singing females do not usually drive away intruders. The status of a female within a male’s territory depends on several factors, including how long she has been mated and her distance from her nest (Yasukawa and Searcy 1995).