Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird.  Photo by Jeff Flinn/RPS 2016
Jeff Flinn/RPS 2016

Category
Birds
Status
Species of Greatest Conservation Need

Description

This bird is a little smaller than a robin. In fall and early winter, the male has a rusty head, back, wings and tail and a rust-mottled belly. The over-winter feathers wear away to reveal a flat black body plumage. The female is paler than the male. Rusty blackbirds are sometimes confused with several species but can be distinguished by the following features. The Brewer’s blackbird has no rusty breast, belly or sides. The common grackle has a long, rudder-like tail. The European starling has a speckled appearance.

Size

Approximately 8.3 to 9.8 inches in length. Wingspan of 14.6 inches.

Habitat

Rusty blackbirds are usually found in marshes, swamps, bottomland forests and woodland edges near water. They may also be found in crop fields and feedlots near swamps and lakes. This bird is primarily found in the eastern half of the state.

Life History

At feeders, this bird eats cracked corn, millet, milo and black-oil sunflower seeds. Away from feeders, they walk along shorelines feeding on water insects, snails and grasshoppers. They also eat waste grain and seeds.

Wildlife Watching Tips

In winter, these birds feed in flocks with other blackbirds. They prefer to feed on the ground.

Explore more Oklahoma Birds

American Avocet at Hackberry Flat WMA. Photo by Jeremiah Zurenda
Photo by: Jeremiah Zurenda
Carolina wren; Isaac Sanchez/Flickr
Photo by: Isaac Sanchez/Flickr
American tree sparrow/Fyn Kynd Photography/Flickr
Photo by: Fyn Kynd Photography/Flickr