FWS Focus


The Tricolored Blackbird is a medium-sized (18-24cm total length), sexually dimorphic North American passerine (Beedy, Edward, and Hamilton III 1999). Adult males are typically larger than females, and are black with bright red and white plumage on the wing shoulder. Adult females have sooty brown-black plumage with distinct grayish streaks, a relatively white chin and throat, and a smaller reddish shoulder-patch. Banding studies indicate a lifespan of 12-13 years (DeHaven and Neff 1973, Kennard 1975).


  • Beedy, Edward C. and William J. Hamilton III. 1999. Tricolored Blackbird (Agelaius tricolor), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/423
  • Beedy, E. C. and W. J. Hamilton III. 1997. Tricolored Blackbird status update and management guidelines. September. (Jones & Stokes Associates, Inc. 97-099.) Sacramento, CA. Prepared for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Serv., Portland, OR, and Calif. Dept. of Fish and Game, Sacramento, CA.
  • Collier, G. 1968. Annual cycle and behavioral relationships in the Red-winged and Tricolored Blackbirds of southern California. Phd Thesis. Univ. of California, Los Angeles.
  • Dehaven, R. W. and J. A. Neff. 1973. Recoveries and returns of Tricolored Blackbirds, 1941-1964. West. Bird Bander 48:10-11.
  • Dehaven, R. W. 1975. Plumages of the Tricolored Blackbird. West. Bird Bander 50:59-61.
  • Emlen, J. T. 1941. An experimental analysis of the breeding cycle of the Tricolored Red-wing. Condor 43:209-219.
  • Kennard, J. H. 1975. Longevity records of North American birds. Bird-Banding 46:55-73.
  • Martin, A. C., H. S. Zim, and A. L. Nelson. 1951. American wildlife and plants: a guide to wildlife food habits. McGraw-Hill, New York.
  • Neff, J. A. 1942. Migration of the Tricolored Red-wing in central California. Condor 44:45-53.
  • Orians, G. H. 1960. Autumnal breeding in the Tricolored Blackbird. Auk. 77:379-398.
  • Orians, G. H. 1961b. Social stimulation within blackbird colonies. Condor 63:330-337.
  • Orians, G. H. 1985. Blackbirds of the Americas. Univ. of Washington Press, Seattle.
  • Payne, R. 1969. Breeding seasons and reproductive physiology of Tricolored Blackbirds and Redwinged Blackbirds. Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. 90:1-137.
  • Pyle, P. 1997. Identification guide to North American birds, Part I. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, CA.
  • Skorupa, J. P., R. L. Hothem, and R. W. DeHaven. 1980. Foods of breeding Tricolored Blackbirds in agricultural areas of Merced County, California. Condor 82:465-467.

Scientific Name

Agelaius tricolor
Common Name
Tricolored Blackbird
FWS Category

Location in Taxonomic Tree

Identification Numbers



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