Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
Range Map
Density Range Map

Closely related to meadowlarks, the Yellow-Headed Blackbird breeds in reedy marshes over much of the western and north central USA. These highly migratory birds spend summers in North America from the Great Lakes into Canada’s Prairie Provinces, and west to central Washington, Oregon, eastern California, Nevada, and most western USA, including the northern Mississippi Valley. When winter approaches, most of these birds head south into Mexico, while some will stay in southwestern USA, just north of the border.

Today, science considers the Yellow-Headed Blackbird monotypic (i.e. no subspecies are recognised).

I’ve enjoyed meeting these birds in the western USA during my travels. I usually find them in cattail marshes, though in Arizona I’ve found them at feedlots and freshly tilled agricultural fields.

During the 2021 spring migration in south Texas, it was my pleasure to catch flocks of Yellow-Headed Blackbirds stopping over on South Padre Island on their way north to their breeding grounds.

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