Fun Tricolored Blackbird Facts For Kids

Aashita Dhingra
May 01, 2023 By Aashita Dhingra
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi
Tricolored blackbird facts about the birds of North America with red shoulder patches.

The tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) is a type of passerine bird. It is a very social and noisy bird. It lives and forages in large groups.

These birds help in managing the population of insects that harm crop plantations. This North American species are very important to control the insect population when they are found in abundance during insect outbreak years. This species may be considered agricultural pests due to their breeding habits in the croplands.

They may eat rice, barley, and oats crop grains and have a broad-shouldered look. This species is very identical to the red-winged blackbird in appearance.

It is medium-sized. The widespread loss of native marshes and wetlands to land conversions for vineyards, orchards, and urban development has threatened the very survival of the tricolored blackbird. Predation is rampant in the bird's little remaining native habitat.

The continuous threats to tricolored blackbirds were ignored for many years, then finally in 2004 petitions were listed for the protection of these birds. In 2006, California announced its refusal to protect the species, as did the U.S.

Fish and Wildlife Service in 2006. But in 2014, the bird population reached the edge. Finally, after re-petitioning in 2015 on an emergency basis, the Californian agencies announced it as a species to be protected.

Here are some of the most interesting aspects of the tricolored blackbird. If you like these facts, check out our articles on the frigate bird and wren.

Tricolored Blackbird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a tricolored blackbird?

The tricolored blackbird (Agelaius tricolor) is a passerine bird species with three colors on its body. These tricolored birds can sing their bird songs quite well along with their group.

What class of animal does a tricolored blackbird belong to?

The tricolored blackbird belongs to the Aves class of animals. The red-winged blackbird species belongs to the family of Icteridae and can be found in the Central Valley in California with the help of a range map, bird guide, and field guide.

How many tricolored blackbirds are there in the world?

The population of tricolored blackbird species has declined over the past decades across their breeding range in agricultural areas of California. There were an estimated two to three million tricolored blackbirds in the 1930s and now there are only 300,000 birds left in the world.

Where does a tricolored blackbird live?

This species from the order Passeriformes can be found living in large colonies in the agricultural areas of North America. Its range is from Central Valley in Northern California in the United States of America to Baja California in Mexico. These birds are native to Washington, Oregon, and Nevada.

These birds prefer to live in large colonies in open agricultural areas like farms, ranches, and fields. Due to the weather changes, these birds are migratory.

They travel to Mexico in the winters and back to California in the summers in the same large colonies. These birds live in nests which are mostly in freshwater marshy areas or triticale fields. Their nests are built from long leaves.

What is a tricolored blackbird's habitat?

The tricolored blackbird usually inhabits marshy areas, open fields, or farms in the form of large colonies. Their breeding colonies are also found in dense areas of cattails and bulrushes. It prefers to be in open habitats such as farms, fields, lawns, and ranches, even when the birds of this species are breeding.

Who do tricolored blackbirds live with?

Tricolored blackbirds live in large groups. It nests and forages in large groups only near wetlands. They join flocks of blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, and European starlings. They are mostly walking on the grounds while foraging. Birds of this endangered species prefer to forage in flocks.

How long does a tricolored blackbird live?

The lifespan of the tricolored blackbird is not known as such but the estimated age they can live up to is 13 years in marshes or near wetlands. Better food opportunities and good habitats can help these endangered birds live longer lives in the areas of Merced County, California.

How do they reproduce?

The males routinely mate with one or more females during the breeding season in spring. The female tricolored blackbird lays four eggs at a time, usually in the range of three to six eggs in their nest in the dense breeding colonies.

They build open-cup nests in trees, shrubs, or on the ground. The incubation period is 11 days in the nest for which both the males and females take turns.

It takes 11-15 days for the newborn to leave the nest after hatching. These birds breed in both spring and fall.

They breed twice a year in two different locations. Males can breed when they turn two and females can start to breed when they are one year old.

What is their conservation status?

The population of these birds has largely declined in recent years. They are declared as threatened species or endangered species by some countries, mainly by Californian agencies in terms of conservation status. Under the IUCN Red List, it is considered a species with Least Concern in terms of conservation status.

Tricolored Blackbird Fun Facts

What do tricolored blackbirds look like?

The endangered tricolored blackbird is a medium-sized bird. This bird has a broad-shouldered body. It is entirely black and has red patches on its shoulder.

There are white stripes on the bottom of these patches. These stripes are visible when the bird is flying or displaying. These birds have long and sharp bills to find the insects in long grasses.

It also helps them to grasp aquatic animals by sticking their heads underwater. Male birds are darker and larger than female birds. Female birds are grayish-black in color and are darker than red-winged female blackbirds.

These North American bird species are found in large groups year-round feeding in agricultural fields.

How cute are they?

These birds are very cute in appearance. These nesting birds are tricolored and that distinctive feature makes them adorable and lovable to animal lovers. This is a very social bird which also makes it very interesting in itself.

How do they communicate?

The calls of the tricolored blackbird sound very nasal across the Central Valley of California. The males have a garbled one-Kavanagh song. This is a very noisy and social bird.

How big is a tricolored blackbird?

A tricolored blackbird is around 9 in (22 cm) long with a 14 in (35.5 cm) wingspan. These birds are slightly larger than red-winged blackbirds and have more pointed wingtips with less round bills. It is a medium-sized bird.

How fast can a tricolored blackbird fly?

These birds are fast in flying. These nesting birds also migrate to the south in winter and come back to the north in summer. These nesting birds are very active, social, and fast birds. These birds fly up to 3 mi (4.8 km) every day in search of food.

How much does a tricolored blackbird weigh?

The average weight of the tricolored blackbird is 2.04-2.2 oz (57.8-62.3 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

Although there is no special name given to the blackbird male and female sexes of tricolored blackbirds, the male tricolored blackbird is known as a cock and the female can be known as a hen.

What would you call a baby tricolored blackbird?

The baby tricolored blackbird is known as a nestling.

What do they eat?

Tricolored blackbirds eat grasshoppers, caterpillars, seeds, snails, beetles, and other insects from shrubs or midair. These nesting birds also like to eat livestock grain. They like to eat insects in summer and seeds of grasses or weeds in winter.

Are they poisonous?

No, these birds are not poisonous, and nor are these nesting birds aggressive. They are very calm, noisy, and social. They may have sharp bills which they use to locate their prey in grasses and water, but they mean no harm otherwise. They may react when they are irritated.

Would they make a good pet?

These birds do not like to come in bird feeders in urban areas but this wetland species can be seen if you live in village areas and have large farms, fields, or ranches. Feeding them with corn can attract them to your fields.

Calling these birds social is an understatement as they are highly social, interactive, and interesting birds. Also, their endangered population makes it hard to keep them captive.

Did you know...

The male red-winged blackbirds have a yellow stripe at the bottom of the red shoulder patch. But the tricolored blackbird has a white stripe and a brighter red shoulder patch on its body.

The tricolored blackbird has a longer and less round bill than the red-winged blackbird. The tricolored blackbird has a very small range and is rare to find.

Calls are rather similar to those of the red-wing blackbird, but the song is more nasal and less musical. Unlike red-winged blackbirds, these birds hound for food and travel far from their nests.

How will climate change reshape the range of the tricolored blackbird?

Climate change can bring a big change in reshaping the population decline of the tricolored blackbird. These birds inhabit open areas, so maintaining the forests and the environment can provide them with a good habitat to live and breed which will, in turn, help them to live a longer and healthier life.

Tricolored blackbirds once formed nest colonies in large groups but now they do not have the perfect habitat to live in large groups.

The loss of habitat is the main reason why their population is declining over the past few decades.

Two to three million in the 1930s, then 300,000 in 2008, and now 145,00 approximately, has been their population range in the past decades. Providing them with proper habitat, living environment, and climate will help these birds grow in number.

What eats tricolored blackbirds?

Tricolored blackbirds are mainly predated by larger mammals and larger birds. The mammals that commonly prey on tricolored blackbirds are foxes, feral cats, and skunks. The birds that prey on tricolored blackbirds are common ravens, black-crowned night herons, Northern harriers, and Cooper's hawks. Some cats may destroy their nests too.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our bowerbird fun facts and cassowary facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our Tricolored Munia coloring pages.

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Written by Aashita Dhingra

Bachelors in Business Administration

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Aashita DhingraBachelors in Business Administration

Based in Lucknow, India, Aashita is a skilled content creator with experience crafting study guides for high school-aged kids. Her education includes a degree in Business Administration from St. Mary's Convent Inter College, which she leverages to bring a unique perspective to her work. Aashita's passion for writing and education is evident in her ability to craft engaging content.

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Fact-checked by Oluwapelumi Iwayemi

Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

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Oluwapelumi IwayemiBachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering

Iwayemi is a creative content writer and editor studying for a Bachelor of Science specializing in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. He is skilled in research and has experience writing and editing content for different organizations.

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