Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Yellow-headed Blackbird

The last year or two, I have found Yellow-headed Blackbirds more frequently in eastern Minnesota. This bird was perched on the side of a road in Dakota County in May. These blackbirds prefer deep-water cattail marshes and are found in much of western North America.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are polygynous, often with up to 16 females in a harem. Productive lakes have more females than poorer ones, and more females per male. Unfortunately, what with my new-found interest in odonates, productive marshes are usually defined by high rates of dragonfly emergence. In the winter, these blackbirds eat grain.

Males defend their territories against other males and usually do not breed until after their second year. Females defend small areas around their grouped nests. Females, however, will copulate with “any observed male,” usually those males with adjoining territories when the female's mate is absent (Twedt and Crawford 1995).

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