Why is Redwing communication so complicated compared to many other species?
Large numbers of Redwings nest in even a small cattail marsh. Territorial calls and exposing their epaulets can help males define their territorial boundaries without too much fighting. But these crowded birds must also cooperate to chase off crows, and warn of other predators and dangers. They can also feed in large flocks, because where they do find food, usually insects and seeds from fields and pastures, their food supplies are abundant. By communicating, when one bird finds food they can all feast. Most territorial birds nest farther apart, and most territorial birds don't gather in flocks to feed during the breeding season.
Why has there been so much research on Red-winged Blackbirds?
Scientists find redwings and their nests easily, their territorial boundaries are easy to map because the birds defend them so conspicuously with voice and displays, and the birds don't hide when people are near. So they are easy to study. Also, the ways redwings use their plumage and voices to communicate are fascinating to scientists.