Yellow-Headed Blackbird

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
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. They also live west to central Washington, Oregon, eastern California, and Nevada. They even find their way to 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.

Until my epic journey through North America in 2022, all my encounters with these birds came in the continental USA. But in early July, I met them near the northern limit of their breeding range at Kimiwan Lake near McLennan, Alberta Canada.

Range Map for Yellow-Headed Blackbird
Range Map

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