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Birding Colorado Springs: Blackbirds

Birds commonly seen in Colorado Springs and surrounding areas.

Blackbirds

"Blackbird" is a catchall term for songbirds that appear black in the field. These birds are not necessarily related; they're grouped here for identification purposes.

European Starling

https://www.flickr.com/photos/19598613@N00/447649984/sizes/m/
Author: Author: Trisha Shears. Creative  Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0

Info (All About Birds) Song/Calls (Macaulay Library) Video (YouTube)
  • Aggressive bird that displaces our native species
  • Related to mynahs; song includes squeaky imitations of other birds and human-related sounds
  • Breeding adults have iridescent plumage
  • Immature and winter birds show heavy speckling
  • A large flock of starlings is called a “murmuration”

Common Grackle

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Author: MdfGNU Free Documentation License 1.2, no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay Library) Video (YouTube)
  • Smaller than American Crow; about the size of a robin but with longer tail and beak.
  • Male has glossy, iridescent plumage; female has drabber plumage
  • Vocalizations are metallic-sounding
  • Easy to confuse with Brewer’s Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brewer%27s_Blackbird_male_RWD4.jpg
Author: DickDaniels. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay library) Video (YouTube)
  • Easily confused with Common Grackle: note the tail and beak which are shorter than a grackle's. Voice also differs.
  • Males are glossy iridescent black; females are dark gray-brown.
  • Well-adapted to life around humans in rural, suburban and urban areas.

Brown-headed Cowbird

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brown-Headed_Cowbird.jpg
Author: Alan Wilson. Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay library) Video (YouTube)
  • Male has brown head and iridescent body; female is drab brown
  • Parasitic species which lays its eggs in the nests of other birds
  • Song is liquid; female chatters

American Crow

https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpmckenna/3177645376/sizes/m/
Author: J. P. McKenna.  Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 2.0

Info (All About Birds) Call (Macaulay Library) Video (YouTube)
  • Larger than other commonly-seen songbirds
  • Most common vocalization is the “caw”; but crows make a variety of sounds including a low rattle. Immature birds make a higher-pitched caw
  • Motion of wings in flight resemble swimming
  • Often seen in small family groups much of the year; may congregate in large flocks ("murders") in winter.

Common Raven

https://www.flickr.com/photos/rick_leche/2039887838/sizes/l/
Author:  Rick Leche. Creative  Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay Library) Video (YouTube)
  • Larger than American Crow, with larger beak and wedge-shaped tail
  • Acrobatic flier; superior in flight to American Crows and Red-tailed Hawks, with which it often contests
  • Call is a throaty croak, more resonant than the caw of a crow
  • Male is larger than female. Frequently seen in pairs; they often display affection by touching each others' beaks.
  • Usually displays confident stance, in contrast to American Crow which often shows nervous, twitchy body language

Red-winged Blackbird

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_winged_blackbird_-_natures_pics.jpg
Author: Alan D. Wilson. Public Domain, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5

Info (All About Birds) Song (Macaulay library) Video (YouTube)
  • Male has distinctive epaulets which are displayed from exposed perches
  • Preferred habitat is cattails and other vegetation in marshy areas
  • Female looks very different from male: streaky brown all over, with a white eye stripe. Skulks in vegetation and does not show itself flashily like the male.