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Friday, August 02, 2013

What Bird Is This?

What bird is this you may wonder. It sure does't look like a Red-winged Blackbird. Where's the red, where's the black?

This is a juvenile Red-winged Blackbird. The term “juvenile” refers to the first full plumage that a bird has when leaving the nest. You can see that this bird looks a little like an adult female, but has a more rich golden-buff ground color to its body and head (an adult female has a paler, whiter ground color to its body and head). Also, young birds at this time of year (late summer) have all new fresh feathers with little or no wear; adult birds at this same time have worn feathers, often looking very frayed at the edges. In juvenile plumage, the male and female Red-winged Blackbird look alike.

This juvenile bird will go through a molt from July to November, replacing most of its feathers. When done, male and female will look different, the female streaked brownish and whitish and the male more blackish with paler mottling. See page 717 of our The Stokes Field Guide to the Birds of North America for photos and descriptions of these birds.

It's amazing how much you can learn about birds and increase your bird ID ability, just by looking closely at the birds in your yard. Now is a good time to be on the lookout for juvenile birds.

For descriptions of Juvenile birds and the timing of how long they keep their juvenile plumage, see our new field guides,

and its regional versions,

It is great fun, and a challenge, to keep learning about birds!!


Kay G. said...

It's fun to identify a juvenile bird, it helps when the adult is very close by! :-)

France Paulsen said...

Thanks for this article, very timely.