How Can We Help?
< Back

The yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) is a medium-sized blackbird with a yellow head.

It is the only member of the genus Xanthocephalus. Their scientific name derives from the Greek word for yellow, xanthous, and the word for head, cephalus.[2]

Description

Yellow-headed blackbirds are considered to be relatively large blackbirds with large, yellow heads.[2] They measure 8.3–10.2 in (21–26 cm) in length, with a wingspan of 16.5–17.3 in (42–44 cm) and a weight of 1.6–3.5 oz (44–100 g).[3]

Adults have a pointed bill. The adult male is mainly black with a yellow head and breast; they have a white wing patch sometimes only visible in flight. The adult female is mainly brown with a dull yellow throat and breast. Immature members of both sexes are brown with duller yellow plumage compared to adult males. Immature males also have some white patches on the wing.[4] Both sexes resemble the respective sexes of the smaller yellow-hooded blackbird of South America.

Behavior and ecology

Migration, habitat, and breeding

These birds migrate in the winter to the southwestern United States and Mexico. They often migrate in huge flocks with other species of birds. The only regions of the United States where these blackbirds are permanent residents are the San Joaquin Valley and the Lower Colorado River Valley of Arizona and California. It is an extremely rare vagrant to western Europe, with some records suspected to refer to escapes from captivity. When migrating, males and females travel separately. Males typically arrive at the breeding marshes 2-3 weeks before females during spring migration.[5] Research suggests that females choose breeding sites based on the reproductive success (number of young per breeding female) of the site in previous years.[6]

The breeding habitat of the yellow-headed blackbird are marshes in North America (mainly west of the Great Lakes), particularly in plants such as cattails (genus Typha), bulrush (genus Scirpus), and common reeds (genus Phragmites).[7] The nest is built with and attached to marsh vegetation and is constructed over open water.[5] They nest in colonies, often sharing their habitat closely with the red-winged blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus). During the breeding and nesting season the males are very territorial and spend much of their time perched on reed stalks and displaying or chasing off intruders.

Food

These birds eat seeds during majority of the year and insects throughout the summer months.[8] They forage in marshes, fields, or on the ground; they sometimes catch insects in flight. Sunflowers are fairly popular amongst yellow-headed blackbirds in the Northern Great Plains, with a study indicating that males eat more sunflower than grains and females more grains than sunflower.[9] Some methods of gathering food involve flipping over stones, catching insects from the top of water, and foraging. Foraging methods take place in uplands, with the flock taking a "rolling" formation in which birds fly from the back to the front of the flock to feed. Female yellow-headed blackbirds primarily feed their newly-hatched young insects from the order Odonata, which includes dragonflies and damselflies.[10] Outside the nesting period, they often feed in flocks, often with related species.

Songs and calls

This bird's song resembles the grating of a rusty hinge. Male yellow-headed blackbirds have been observed to have two types of songs, an "accent song" and a "buzz song". The “buzz songs'' have much higher pitch than the accent song, and thus do not echo as well in the dense marshes they live in. For that reason, buzzing songs are typically done when communicating closer whereas accent songs are done to communicate with birds further in the marshes.[11] Female birds have a song that is described to be similar to the male "buzz song", consisting of harsh grating or buzz sounds. Both sexes are also found to elicit harsh calling notes.[12]

Natural threats

Yellow‐headed blackbirds have been found to be sensitive to nest predation risk, for example by marsh wrens (Cistothorus palustris), and alter their nest attendance behavior accordingly.[13]

Raptors occasionally prey on yellow-headed blackbird flocks.[14] For example, media outlets reported that on February 7, 2022, a flock of yellow-headed blackbirds migrating to Chihuahua, Mexico, were seen dropping dead in the early morning.[15] According to experts, it is most likely that the birds were killed due to being flushed from above as a result of a predatory bird (presumably a raptor) chasing them, which caused some of them to fly into each other and crash into the ground and nearby buildings.[16]

Conservation

Because yellow-headed blackbirds typically reside in wetlands, their population numbers depend on the conditions of the wetlands in which they reside.[17] For instance, drainage projects, herbicides/pesticides, and other crop protection methods have impacts on the health of wetlands, and consequently, cause the bird population to fluctuate in number. Currently, yellow-headed blackbird numbers are stable and will likely remain that way in the long term.

Gallery

References

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22724169A94852992. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22724169A94852992.en. Retrieved 12 November 2021.
  2. ^ a b Twedt, Daniel J. "Ecology of yellow-headed blackbirds." Ecology and Management of Blackbirds (Icteridae) in North America. CRC Press, 2017. 43-64.
  3. ^ "Yellow-headed Blackbird Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Yellow-headed Blackbird Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 30 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b Ellarson, ROBERT S. "The yellow-headed blackbird in Wisconsin." Passenger Pigeon 12 (1950): 99-109.
  6. ^ Ward, Michael P. (1 October 2005). "Habitat selection by dispersing yellow-headed blackbirds: evidence of prospecting and the use of public information". Oecologia. 145 (4): 650–657. Bibcode:2005Oecol.145..650W. doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0179-0. ISSN 1432-1939. PMID 16007408. S2CID 9352638.
  7. ^ Nero, Robert W. (1963). "Comparative Behavior of the Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, and Other Icterids". The Wilson Bulletin. 75 (4): 376–413. ISSN 0043-5643. JSTOR 4159213.
  8. ^ "Yellow-headed Blackbird Life History, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 10 November 2021.
  9. ^ Twedt, Daniel J., William J. Bleier, and George M. Linz. "Geographic and temporal variation in the diet of Yellow-headed Blackbirds." The Condor 93.4 (1991): 975-986.
  10. ^ Ward, Michael P. (1 October 2005). "Habitat selection by dispersing yellow-headed blackbirds: evidence of prospecting and the use of public information". Oecologia. 145 (4): 650–657. Bibcode:2005Oecol.145..650W. doi:10.1007/s00442-005-0179-0. ISSN 1432-1939. PMID 16007408. S2CID 9352638.
  11. ^ "The Sweet Songs Of The Yellow-Headed Blackbird". Montana Public Radio. 15 June 2015. Retrieved 13 November 2021.
  12. ^ Nero, Robert W. (1963). "Comparative Behavior of the Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Red-Winged Blackbird, and Other Icterids". The Wilson Bulletin. 75 (4): 376–413. ISSN 0043-5643. JSTOR 4159213.
  13. ^ Behrens, C.; Ruff, Z.J.; Harms, T.M.; Dinsmore, S.J. (2019). "Predator density influences nest attendance of Yellow‐headed Blackbirds Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus". Ibis. 161 (3): 679–685. doi:10.1111/ibi.12705. S2CID 92452532.
  14. ^ "Behavior - Yellow-headed Blackbird - Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus - Birds of the World". birdsoftheworld.org. doi:10.2173/bow.yehbla.01. S2CID 216373852. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  15. ^ "Viral video shows blackbirds falling from sky in Mexico". The Washington Post. 15 February 2022. Retrieved 11 June 2022.
  16. ^ "Why did birds fall from sky in Mexico? Probably a predator, experts say". the Guardian. 14 February 2022. Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  17. ^ "Yellow-headed Blackbird Identification, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology". www.allaboutbirds.org. Retrieved 30 September 2020.

External links

Search categoriesSkip PDFs • View other tools
Help
  • Phrases in double quotes: For example, "holly dolly" returns very few results as opposed to holly dolly.
  • Exclusion: Terms can be excluded with -, for example windows -system (note there is no space between "-" and the excluded term).
  • Wildcard search: Wildcards (symbols representing unknown text) can be prefixed and suffixed, for example, the search *stan will produce results like Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.
For more details, including fuzzy search, Boolean operators, and keywords intitle:, incategory: and prefix:, see Search Help on English Wikipedia.
Browse
Search

Create the page "Yellow-headed Blackbird" on this wiki!

View (previous 20 | next 20) (20 | 50 | 100 | 250 | 500)
  • Thumbnail for File:Reed-yellow-headed-blackbird.png
    Yellow-headed Blackbird. Source: Chester A. Reed, The Bird Book, 1915. Received from http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/30000....
    (240 × 317 (61 KB)) - 15:23, 3 May 2018
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed Blackbird Tex.jpg
    http://seeworthybirds.com http://seeworthybirds.com/TxBirds/7TanagersOrioles/Yellow_headed_Blackbird.htm# I, the copyright holder of this work, hereby publish it under...
    (4,044 × 2,726 (3.58 MB)) - 23:44, 5 March 2022
  • Thumbnail for File:Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus (Yellow-headed blackbird) en Chihuahua.jpg
    Alike 4.0 truetrue English Spanish Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus (Yellow-headed blackbird) en Chihuahua author name string: Emilianochavezt Wikimedia username:...
    (5,472 × 3,648 (2.45 MB)) - 14:20, 27 September 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus1.jpg
    Description: Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) feeding young Creator: Phil Norton URL: Fish and Wildlife Service...
    (2,658 × 1,783 (668 KB)) - 02:58, 12 December 2014
  • (Bonaparte, 1826) Vernacular names [edit wikidata 'Yellow-headed Blackbird'] English: Yellow-headed Blackbird български: Жълтоглав трупиал català: federal capgroc...
    906 bytes (216 words) - 20:57, 24 November 2014
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed Blackbird, Provost, Alberta (8713716729).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed Blackbird, Provost, Alberta (8713716729).jpg Yellow-headed Blackbird, Provost, Alberta Date 5 May 2013, 18:39 Source golden headed blackbird...
    (4,608 × 3,456 (3.33 MB)) - 16:36, 6 July 2021
  • Thumbnail for File:Swan Lake Nature Study Area birds.jpg
    choice. 339 198 154 285 1316 879 male Yellow-headed Blackbird (molting) 785 287 197 284 1316 879 male Red-winged Blackbird English author name string: Ragesoss...
    (1,316 × 879 (312 KB)) - 18:03, 24 January 2024
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (51389858534).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (51389858534).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 18 July 2021, 17:21 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa McMasters...
    (6,720 × 4,480 (3.43 MB)) - 19:05, 8 March 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed Blackbird flock.jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed Blackbird flock.jpg English: A flock of Yellow-headed blackbirds (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) settling on reeds. Whitewater...
    (1,800 × 1,200 (1 MB)) - 00:49, 6 November 2022
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (50364950201).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (50364950201).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 29 August 2020, 08:53 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa...
    (5,760 × 3,840 (1.59 MB)) - 02:51, 7 March 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow headed blackbird WWL.jpg
    DescriptionYellow headed blackbird WWL.jpg English: Yellow headed blackbird at Whitewater Lake. Date 16/05/20 Source Own work Author Krazytea...
    (905 × 601 (83 KB)) - 22:37, 29 October 2020
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (48114944292).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (48114944292).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 15 June 2019, 11:19 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa McMasters...
    (3,950 × 2,634 (729 KB)) - 10:53, 24 April 2022
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed Blackbird (14634932983).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed Blackbird (14634932983).jpg Oregon 2014 Date 9 July 2014, 13:25 Source Yellow-headed Blackbird Author Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren...
    (1,920 × 1,080 (94 KB)) - 17:39, 14 April 2022
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (50364252828).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (50364252828).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 29 August 2020, 08:57 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa...
    (3,984 × 2,656 (1.06 MB)) - 02:51, 7 March 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (14408854120).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (14408854120).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird at Morris Wetland Management District. Photo by Alex Galt/USFWS. Date 25...
    (2,475 × 1,881 (995 KB)) - 23:45, 30 October 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed Blackbird (34277712221).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed Blackbird (34277712221).jpg Taken in the North Dakota portion of the Prairie Pothole Region. Credit: Ryan Moehring / USFWS Prairie...
    (2,540 × 1,684 (1.04 MB)) - 12:12, 29 October 2021
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (51390133630).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (51390133630).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 18 July 2021, 17:05 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa McMasters...
    (6,720 × 4,480 (1.68 MB)) - 19:05, 8 March 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (48114852066).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (48114852066).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 15 June 2019, 11:19 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa McMasters...
    (3,950 × 2,634 (729 KB)) - 10:53, 24 April 2022
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed blackbird (51390133715).jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed blackbird (51390133715).jpg Yellow-headed blackbird Date 18 July 2021, 17:05 Source Yellow-headed blackbird Author Melissa McMasters...
    (6,720 × 4,480 (1.69 MB)) - 19:02, 8 March 2023
  • Thumbnail for File:Yellow-headed Blackbird - female.jpg
    DescriptionYellow-headed Blackbird - female.jpg Female Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus). Date 17 May 2008, 09:17 Source Cropped...
    (1,200 × 1,600 (1.07 MB)) - 16:05, 17 September 2021
View (previous 20 | next 20) (20 | 50 | 100 | 250 | 500)
Table of Contents