Yellow-headed Blackbird

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus




Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Light gray or green with brown or gray markings

Number of Eggs:

3 - 5

Incubation Days:

11 - 13

Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

In marsh vegetation., Over water.

Nest Material:

Wet marsh vegetation which shrinks when dry.





Yellow-headed Blackbird: Medium-sized blackbird with black body, bright yellow hood and breast, and distinct white wing patches. Female and juvenile are mottled brown overall with dull yellow breast, throat and face, and white streaks extending down breast.

Range and Habitat

Yellow-headed Blackbird: Breeds from central British Columbia, northern Alberta, and Wisconsin south to southern California, northern New Mexico, and Illinois. Spends winters in southern U.S. and northern Mexico. Nests in freshwater marshes; during migration and winter prefers open, cultivated lands, fields, and pastures.

Breeding and Nesting

Yellow-headed Blackbird: Three to five dark-marked, pale gray or green eggs are laid in a bulky, deep basket nest woven into emergent vegetation over water. Nest is made with wet vegetation, which tightens as it dries. Incubation ranges from 11 to 13 days and is carried out by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

Yellow-headed Blackbird: Diet consists of beetles, weevils, grasshoppers, dragonflies, spiders, ants, and seeds of panic grass, ragweed, smartweed, and pigweed. Forages in low vegetation and on the ground; may hawk insects in the air.

Readily Eats

Cracked Corn, Nut Meats, Suet, Millet


Yellow-headed Blackbird: Song is a series of low raspy notes that ends in a descending "buzz." Call is a hoarse "croak."

Similar Species

Yellow-headed Blackbird: Male is only North American bird with a yellow head and black body. Female is distinguished from other blackbirds by yellow throat and breast.

The upper front part of a bird.
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X