Description ADULT MALE Has bright yellow hood and breast (with black eye surround), and otherwise mostly black plumage, except for striking white wing patch (primary coverts). ADULT FEMALE Has a yellowish buff face and breast (palest on throat, malar stripe, and supercilium) and otherwise rather uniform and un_streaked dark brown plumage. JUVENILE Yellow-buff overall, darker above than below, with two white wing bars; first-winter female is similar to adult female; first-winter male is similar to adult female, but has hint of adult white wing patch, plus dark lores and more intense yellow suffusion on head.
Dimensions Length: 8-11" (20-28 cm)
Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to marshy habitats; winters mainly in Mexico.
Observation Tips Easy to see.
Range Texas, Plains, Southeast, Southwest, Alaska, New England, Rocky Mountains, Northwest, Great Lakes, Western Canada, Florida, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, California
Voice Song comprises harsh, grating and chattering screeches; call is a dry k'duk.
Discussion Stocky wetland bird. Male is unmistakable. Forms flocks outside breeding season. Sexes are dissimilar and male is larger than female.
Migration Info Although this marsh-loving species has similar habitat requirements to those of its relative the Red-winged Blackbird, it is less cold-tolerant than the Red-winged and retreats farther southward. Yellow-headed Blackbirds leave most of their breeding areas and occupy a winter range that stretches from the extreme southwestern United States to central Mexico. During winter, the flocks are segregated by sex; males are predominant in the northern portions of the wintering area, females in the southern. Yellow-headed Blackbirds migrate in large flocks that are segregated by sex and age. Arrival on the breeding grounds in spring is an orderly process. Mature males migrate first, followed by mature females as much as two weeks later. Next come the first-year males, followed in about a week by first-year females. Drainage of wetlands and other alterations of freshwater habitat (including irrigation practices and habitat destruction caused by overgrazing) pose a serious threat to this species, particularly in northern Mexico and the southwestern United States.