• Terry Wise

Red-winged Blackbird Says: “My Territory - Get Out”

The Red-winged Blackbird breeding population around Carillon Stonegate Pond has been unusually large this year. And, with it, they are ferocious in defending their territories.


I observed such behavior over the weekend.


A Great Blue Heron was foraging along the shoreline as she/he does every day. As the heron neared one of the nesting areas of the Red-winged Blackbird, it was suddenly attacked. The Red-winged Blackbird circled overhead and dove toward the Great Blue Heron, nipping at its rear. This behavior continued for ten minutes. Undaunted by the activities of the Red-winged Blackbird, the Great Blue Heron just kept walking and searching for prey! Finally, as enough distance between the nest and the fishing was created, the Red-winged Blackbird stopped the attacks.


Red-winged Blackbirds are very territorial and aggressive during the nesting season. Males often sit up high on a reed or tree surveying their territories and will aggressively fly after intruders with their red wing-patches displayed boldly. Adults are very aggressive in their nesting territory, spending more than 25 percent of their day taking defensive actions. They will attack larger birds such as the Great Blue Heron that approach. And they will loudly protest you or me as we walk or intrude their property (think the Alfred Hitchcock movie “The Birds”). Here is a story from the BBC worth reading.


Well, the Great Blue Heron thought she/he was finally left alone. But not so! Probably fifteen minutes later, I saw the Great Blue Heron zooming west over the pond with the Red-winged Blackbird chasing close behind. When the heron left the pond area, the Red-winged Blackbird veered off and return to roost on a tall reed overlooking the nest.


Life goes on around Carillon Stonegate Pond - sometimes with some excitement!


Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!


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