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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Yellow-headed Blackbird -- Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

RANGE: Breeds from southern and central Canada, throughout the western part of the United States, west of the Mississippi River. Winters from southern California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas into Mexico.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Inhabits freshwater marshes of cattails, bulrushes, and reeds, generally over water. Winters in open cultivated fields, pastures, and marshes.


NEST: Generally nests in colonies. Builds a woven basketlike cup nest of marsh vegetation lined with fine grass and attaches it to reeds and cattails 1 to 3 feet above water or sometimes in willows in wet areas.

FOOD: Eats both vegetable and animal material gleaned from the ground, mostly vegetative material, which includes seeds and leaves of grasses and forbs, and grain crops.

REFERENCES: Beal 1900, Forbush and May 1955, Lowe and Mansell 1983, Willson 1966.

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