Monday, July 24, 2023

Irresistible! Attract Red-winged Blackbirds to Your Feeder

Red-winged Blackbirds are one of the most abundant and widespread birds in North America. They are year-round residents throughout most of the United States. They are summer residents across Canada and in parts of Alaska.

They are easily attracted to bird feeders, especially in winter.

How do you attract Red-winged Blackbirds to your feeder? Follow these suggestions to attract Red-winged Blackbirds to your yard.

Photo of Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird. Greg Gillson

Why attract Red-winged Blackbirds to your bird feeder?

The glossy black males with startling red and yellow shoulders are really beautiful birds. Many people really love their bold colors.

These birds are bold and conspicuous. They are usually found in noisy, active flocks. They bring some excitement and personality to the bird feeders when they come.

Females are streaked and may look like sparrows. They are smaller than the males. But they have the long-pointed blackbird bill. This is an interesting example of sexual dimorphism, when males and females are quite different.

Photo of Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird. Greg Gillson

What foods will attract Red-winged Blackbirds to your feeder?

Red-winged Blackbirds eat all kinds of foods at your feeder.

They especially like grains: cracked corn, wheat, oats, milo, millet and similar grains that many sparrows and finches do not eat. They are not picky. 

They will also eat sunflower seeds.

The best mixed bird seed that I have found is Wagner's Songbird Supreme (Amazon affiliate link). It is 50% sunflower seeds and doesn't have any cheap filler seed that birds won't eat. This seed attracts the largest variety of birds to your feeder.

They will also eat seed blocks (Amazon), such as those made to attract quail.

They will eat live mealworms, and probably dried, also.

They are highly attracted to suet.

For my home feeders, I always purchase St Albans Bay Suet blocks (Amazon affiliate link). It comes in several flavors, including peanut and berry. They fit in required special suet cages, which are a type of bird feeder. 

Photo of Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird. Greg Gillson

What kind of feeders do Red-winged Blackbirds like?

Red-winged Blackbirds will eat from any large feeder. The larger the better for these birds that usually come to feeders in flocks.

A large platform feeder (Amazon affiliate link) is probably the best for these birds. The covered roof help keeps the seed dry.

Even so, Red-winged Blackbirds will probably prefer to eat seeds and grain right from the ground.

I made this video to accompany this article: At your feeder: Red-winged Blackbird. Listen to them sing!

Where to place your bird feeder for Red-winged Blackbirds

Red-winged Blackbirds prefer to eat on the ground or from low bird feeders.

But they will eat from any large bird feeder at any height.

When feeding in flocks they are not shy. So, it really doesn't matter where you place the feeder in your yard.

Photo of Red-winged Blackbird
Female Red-winged Blackbird. Greg Gillson

How else can you attract Red-winged Blackbirds to your yard?

In the summer, Red-winged Blackbirds live in wetlands, especially cattail marshes.

In the winter, Red-winged Blackbirds form large flocks in agricultural fields and cattle feedlots. 

They are also found in large parking lots in shopping centers where there are drive-through restaurants. There they eat spilled French fries, bread, and other scraps of human food.

So, if you live near these areas, you are likely to have Red-winged Blackbirds visit your yard.

Need binoculars?

I want to tell you about these Best Value Birding Binoculars

Greg Gillson's Personal Endorsement: I've been watching birds for over 50 years. I've owned a dozen pair of binoculars. For the last 3 years (since June 2020) I've been enjoying the lowest priced binocular suitable for bird watching. It has image quality equal or better than binoculars costing over $450. Yet you can often purchase them online for less than $150. Don't spend less, but why spend more?

Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 (Amazon affiliate link)

Photo of Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird. Greg Gillson

Problems with Red-winged Blackbirds: If you have attracted too many to your feeder

Okay, the truth is, Red-winged Blackbirds can be too rambunctious for some people. The large flocks can empty a bird feeder in minutes and chase off smaller birds.

If you have more Red-winged Blackbirds than you'd like, try these things to discourage them.

Switch to a smaller tube feeder with no tray. Blackbirds will have a hard time getting their head in the feeding port from a short perch. They just can't easily twist their longer body around to reach inside.

Stop feeding suet and cheap mixed seed. Blackbirds really like the small seeds that other birds toss out of the feeder.

Don't put out any human food scraps.

Clean up any seed spilled on the ground. Then feed only as much seed as the other birds eat in a few hours in the morning. Then let birds clean up the ground under the feeders.

Switch to feeding Niger seed from a thistle feeder. Blackbirds don't really eat these small seeds. But Goldfinches, siskins, and some finches will eat them.

I really love the way my iBorn tube feeder (Amazon affiliate link) looks, with it's copper top.  A screwdriver takes off the lower perch and opens it up for cleaning. This feeder filled with black oil sunflower seeds attracts all types of finches, chickadees, and nuthatches. The smaller perches and lack of tray mean that you'll have fewer House Sparrows, Starlings, Doves, and Jays at this feeder.

I bought a Nature's Way Upside-down suet feeder (Amazon affiliate link) a couple years ago and have been very happy with it. Chickadees, nuthatches, bushtits, and woodpeckers eat from it easily. But starlings, blackbirds, and jays can't hang upside down to get at the suet.

Red-winged Blackbird FAQ

Ask questions in the comments below about attracting and feeding Red-winged Blackbird and I'll add the answer here!


Why aren't birds coming to your feeder?

First in series: Irresistible! Attract Mourning Doves to your feeder

Next in series: Irresistible! Attract Carolina Chickadee to your feeder

No comments:

Post a Comment

January 2023: Thank you so much for visiting! I am working on a YouTube channel on birds and bird watching. Check it out here:


Legal Disclosure
As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Legal disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support.

Featured Post

Best budget birding binoculars: Celestron Nature DX ED

My review: Celestron Nature DX ED binoculars for birding Is the Celestron Nature DX ED 8x42 binocular any good for bird watching? My perso...