Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus – Yellow-headed Blackbird

Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus - Yellow-headed Blackbird found in the US

The yellow-headed blackbird, Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus is a medium-sized blackbird and the genus Xanthocephalus’s sole representative. The male Yellow-headed Blackbird guards a limited territory consisting primarily of excellent nesting reeds. He has been known to entice up to eight ladies to nest in his region. The scientific name for the Yellow-headed Blackbird, Xanthocephalus, translates as “yellow head.” Yellow-headed Blackbirds may live to be at least 11 years and 8 months old.

Quick Overview: Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus – Yellow-headed Blackbird
Body size: Around 8-11 in (20-28 cm) and a weight of 79 g (2.8 oz)
Main colors: Yellow, Black, White
Range: Southern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Yellow-headed Blackbird Description

The male Yellow-headed Blackbird is easily identified by his vivid yellow hood and black body. While perched or flying, a white patch on his wing may be visible. Females have a more muted coloration. Her duller-yellow supercilium, neck, and breast are the most distinguishing features.

Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus - Yellow-headed Blackbird found in the US
Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus – Yellow-headed Blackbird. Photo by: David A Mitchell

Size

These birds have a length of 8-11 in (20-28 cm) and a weight of 79 g (2.8 oz). Their wings could range from 14-17 in (36-43 cm).

Feeding

Yellow-headed Blackbirds forage for insects and seeds on plants and the ground, as well as by hawking insects in the air. Their primary mode of foraging is to insert their bill into the ground or a food item and then force it open, along with the substrate.

Habitat

The yellow-headed blackbird breeds in cattail (Typha species) marshes across North America, mostly west of the Great Lakes. The nest is constructed entirely of marsh vegetation and is linked to it. They nest in colonies, frequently coexisting closely with red-winged blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus).

Behavior

Their primary mode of foraging is to insert their bill into the ground or a food item and then force it open, along with the substrate. During the mating season, Yellow-headed Blackbirds are extremely territorial. They like to nest in marshes that are two to four feet above the surface of the water.

Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Icteridae
  • Genus: Xanthocephalus
  • Species: Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Yellow-headed Blackbird in the USA

From central British Columbia, northern Alberta, and Wisconsin south to southern California, northern New Mexico, and Illinois, this species breeds. Winters in the southern United States and northern Mexico.

The Yellow-headed Blackbird can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North CarolinaOklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Xanthocephalus Xanthocephalus – Yellow-headed Blackbird

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