Students' Questions and Experts' Answers
Contributed by Ornithology Expert Laura Erickson
Q. What is the Red-winged Blackbird's population
redwing is recorded in every state of the continental U.S. and all but
extreme northern Canada on Breeding Bird Surveys. The total population
is stable or increasing in most places--one study indictated that they
increased 33% between 1996 and 1999.
do some people consider redwings to be pests?
of the year, redwings eat mostly plant material, and can destroy crops.
How can there be more redwings today than there were when the colonists
first came to America?
used to die throughout much of their range in the winter. Recent winters
have been milder, and for many decades farmers have been planting winter
wheat and other crops that can keep more blackbirds alive during the harshest
Q. What are the biggest dangers facing redwings?
facing redwings include (from most dangerous to least):
especially avicides (pesticides made especially to kill birds).
and hawks, which eat redwing babies.
shrikes, and owls, which kill and eat redwings. These natural predators'
numbers drop as their food supply dwindles, so they are far less common
than redwings, and except in rare local situations simply don't affect
fish, frogs, and other aquatic predators which eat redwing eggs
and fledglings climbing about before they can fly. These natural predators
don't hurt redwing populations.