Michigan Blackbirds

Varieties

There are many different species of blackbirds, including the Red-Winged Blackbird, Common Grackle, Great-Tailed Grackle, Brown-Headed Cowbird, Yellow-Headed Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird and Rusty Blackbird. The Red-Winged Blackbird and Common Grackle are the most prevalent.

 

Red-Winged Blackbird

Identification
The male, a little smaller than a robin, is black with red and yellow shoulder patches. The smaller female is brownish, resembling a large sparrow.

Range and Habitat
The red-winged blackbird nests in hayfields, marshes and ditches. Large flocks feed in fields and bottomlands. Redwings winter in the southern United States.

Fun Facts
Insects are the dominant food during the nesting season (May through July).

Except during nesting season, redwings congregate in large nighttime roosts in marshes or woods containing up to several million birds.

Annual survival rate is only about 50% to 60%.

hese birds provide some benefits by feeding on harmful insects, such as rootworm beetles and corn earworms, and on weed seeds, such as Johnson grass.

Damage to Crops
Red-winged blackbirds can cause considerable damage to ripening corn, sunflower, sorghum, and oats in the milk and dough stages, and to sprouting and ripening rice.


Common Gackle

Identification
An iridescent blackbird larger than a robin, the common grackle has a long keel-shaped tail. The male, slightly larger than the female, has more iridescence on the head and throat.

Range and Habitat
A common nester throughout North America east of the Rockies, the common grackle nests in shelterbelts, farmyards, marshes, and towns. Flocks feed in fields, lawns, woodlots, and bottomlands. These birds winter in the southern United States, often in association with redwings, cowbirds, and starlings.

Fun Facts
Grackles have a larger, stronger bill than redwings, allowing them to feed on acorns and other tree fruits in winter.

Damage to Crops
Grackles will feed on mature field corn in the dent stage, removing entire kernels from the cob and will pull up sprouting corn.

 

Legal Status

Blackbirds are native migratory birds, and thus come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, a formal treaty with Canada and Mexico. Blackbirds are given federal protection in the United States. They may be killed only when found “committing or about to commit depredations upon ornamental or shade trees, agricultural crops, livestock, or wildlife, or when concentrated in such numbers and manner as to constitute a health hazard or other nuisance,” as stated in federal laws regarding migratory birds (50 CFR 21). Some states have additional restrictions on the killing of blackbirds.

 

Prevention and Control Methods

Exclusion
Generally not practical; netting can be used on small plots. Netting is cost-effective for high-value crops.

Cultural Methods
Deep planting, avoid early planting of rice. Grow nonpreferred crops near roost; provide alternative feeding sites. Avoid early or late planting; use resistant hybrids. Harvest as early as possible. Same as for ripening corn except resistant hybrids are not available. Provide alternative feeding site; early harvest.

Frightening
Several devices available; most popular is propane exploder.

Repellents
Seed treatments.

Toxicants
None.

Trapping
Generally not practical.

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The above information was adapted from PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF WILDLIFE DAMAGE with permission of the editors, Scott E. Hygnstrom, Robert M. Timm, and Gary E. Larson (Cooperative Extension Division, Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources University of Nebraska-Lincoln, United States Department of Agriculture Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Animal Damage Control, Great Plains Agricultural Council Wildlife Committee).

Our local Michigan offices offer Blackbirds services in the following cities: Acme, Ada, Akron, Alger, Allen Park, Allendale, Alma, Ann Arbor, Armada, Auburn Hills, Bad Axe, Barton Hills, Battle Creek, Bay City, Bellaire, Belleville, Bellevue, Benzonia, Berkley, Beulah, Beverly Hills, Bingham Farms, Birmingham, Bloomfield, Bloomfield Hills, Bloomfield Twp., Brighton, Brighton, Brooklyn, Caledonia, Canadian Lakes, Canton, Carleton, Caro, Carrollton, Cascade, Casnovia, Cedar, Cedar Springs, Center Line, Central Lake, Charlotte, Chelsea, Clare, Clarkston, Clawson, Commerce Twp., Comstock Park, Concord, Coopersville, Dansville, Davison, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Detroit, Dewitt, Dexter, Dimondale, Drayton Plains, Dundee, East Grand Rapids, East Lansing, East Tawas, Eastpointe, Eaton Rapids, Ecorse, Edenville, Edmore, Elberta, Elk Rapids, Elkton, Ellsworth, Empire, Erie, Estral Beach, Evart, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Farwell, Ferndale, Ferrysburg, Fife Lake, Flat Rock, Flint, Fowler, Fowlerville, Frankenmuth, Frankfort, Franklin, Fraser, Galesburg, Garden City, Genesee, Gibraltar, Gladwin, Grand Haven, Grand Ledge, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Grass Lake, Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, Grosse Pointe Shores, Grosse Pointe Woods, Hamtramck, Hanover, Harbor Beach, Harper Woods, Harrison, Harrison Township, Haslett, Hazel Park, Higgins Lake, Highland Park, Holland, Holly, Holt, Honor, Howell, Howell, Hudsonville, Huntington Woods, Ida, Inkster, Interlochen, Jackson, Jamestown, Kalamazoo, Kalkaska, Kawkawlin, Keego Harbor, Kent City, Kentwood, Kinde, Kingsley, La Salle, Laingsburg, Lake Ann, Lake Orion, Lansing, Lathrup Village, Leonard, Leslie, Lincoln Park, Linwood, Livonia, Lowell, Luna Pier, Macomb, Madison Heights, Mancelona, Manchester, Marlette, Mason, Mattawan, Maybee, Melvindale, Memphis, Midland, Milan, Milford, Monroe, Mount Clemens, Mt. Pleasant, National City, New Baltimore, New Boston, New Haven, New Lothrop, Northport, Northville, Novi, Oak Park, Oakland, Okemos, Old Mission, Olivet, Onondaga, Orchard Lake, Ortonville, Oscoda, Otsego, Ottawa Lake, Ovid, Owosso, Oxford, Parma, Paw Paw, Perry, Petersburg, Pinckney, Pinconning, Plainwell, Pleasant Ridge, Plymouth, Plymouth Township, Pontiac, Portage, Potterville, Rapid City, Redford, Reese, Remus, Richland, Richmond, River Rouge, River Rouge, Riverview, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Rockford, Rockwood, Romeo, Romulus, Roscommon, Rosebush, Roseville, Royal Oak, Saginaw, Saint Clair Shores, Saint Johns, Saint Louis, Saline, Samaria, Sand Lake, Schoolcraft, Shepherd, South Boardman, South Branch, South Lyon, South Rockwood, Southfield, Southgate, Sparta, Spring Lake, Springport, Stanwood, Sterling Heights, Stockbridge, Suttons Bay, Swartz Creek, Sylvan Lake, Tawas City, Taylor, Thompsonville, Traverse City, Trenton, Troy, Tuscola, Ubly, Union Lake, University Center, Utica, Vassar, Vicksburg, Walker, Walled Lake, Warren, Waterford, Wayne, Weidman, West Bloomfield, West Branch, West Olive, Westland, White Lake, Whitmore Lake, Williamsburg, Williamston, Wixom, Wolverine Lake, Woodhaven, Wyandotte, Wyoming, Ypsilanti, Zeeland

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