Pennsylvania 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 Pennsylvania offices offer Blackbirds services in the following cities: Abbottstown, Abington, Ackermanville, Adamsburg, Adamstown, Akron, Alburtis, Aldan, Allenport, Allentown, Alquippa, Ambler, Apollo, Applewood, Ardmore, Arendtsville, Armagh, Arnold, Arona, Aspinwall, Atglen, Atwood, Audubon, Avalon, Avondale, Avonmore, Bala Cynwyd, Baldwin, Bally, Baltimore, Bangor, Bath, Beallsville, Beaver, Bechtelsville, Bell Acres, Bellevue, Ben Avon, Ben Avon Heights, Bendersville, Bensalem, Bentleyville, Bernville, Bethel Park, Bethel Park, Bethlehem, Big Run, Biglerville, Birdsboro, Blairsville, Blawnox, Blue Bell, Bolivar, Bonneauville, Boyertown, Brackenridge, Braddock, Braddock Hills, Bradford Woods, Brentwood, Bridgeport, Bridgeville, Bristol, Brockway, Brookhaven, Brookville, Bruin, Bryn Athyn, Bryn Mawr, Burgettstown, Butler, California, Callensburg, Callery, Callery, Canonsburg, Carnegie, Carroll Valley, Castle Shannon, Catasaqua, Center Valley, Center Valley, Centerport, Centerville, Chalfant, Chalfont, Chapman, Charleroi, Cherry Tree, Cherry Valley, Chester, Chester Heights, Cheswick, Chicora, Christiana, Churchill, Clairton, Clarion, Claysville, Clifton Heights, Clymer, Coal Center, Coatesville, Cokeburg, Collegeville, Collingdale, Columbia, Colwyn, Connoquenessing, Conshohocken, Coopersburg, Coplay, Coraopolis, Corsica, Crafton, Creekside, Cross Roads, Daisytown, Dallastown, Darby, Dayton, Deemston, Delmont, Delta, Denver, Derry, Dillsburg, Donegal, Donora, Dormont, Douglassville, Dover, Downingtown, Doylestown, Dravosburg, Dublin, Dunlevy, Duquesne, East Bangor, East Berlin, East Brady, East Butler, East Greenville, East Lansdowne, East Mckeesport, East Petersburg, East Pittsburgh, East Prospect, East Vandergrift, East Washington, Easton, Eau Claire, Eddystone, Edgewood, Edgeworth, Edinburg, Elco, Elderton, Elizabeth, Elizabethtown, Elkins Park, Ellsworth, Elverson, Emmaus, Emsworth, Ephrata, Ernest, Etna, Evans City, Export, Fairfield, Fairplay, Fairview, Falls Creek, Fawn Grove, Felton, Finleyville, Finleyville, Fleetwood, Fogelsville, Folcroft, Ford City, Ford Cliff, Forest Hills, Fort Washington, Fountain Hill, Fox Chapel, Fox Chapel, Foxburg, Franklin Park, Franklintown, Freemansburg, Freeport, Gastonville, George G Meade, Gettysburg, Gilbertsville, Gladwyne, Glassport, Glen Campbell, Glen Rock, Glendon, Glenfield, Glenolden, Glenshaw, Glenside, Goldsboro, Green Hills, Green Lane, Green Tree, Greensburg, Greensburg, Greensburg, Hallam, Hamburg, Hanover, Harmony, Harmony, Harrisville, Hatboro, Hatfield, Hawthorn, Haysville, Heidelberg, Hellertown, Hellertown, Homer City, Homestead, Honey Brook, Horsham, Houston, Hulmeville, Hunker, Huntingdon Valley, Hyde Park, Ijamsville, Imperial, Indiana, Indiana Township, Ingram, Irwin, Ivyland, Jacobus, Jeannette, Jefferson, Jefferson, Jefferson Hills, Jenkintown, Jenkintown, Joffre, Karns City, Keedysville, Kenhorst, Kennett Square, King Of Prussia, Kittanning, Knox, Koppel, Kutztown, Kutztown, Ladiesburg, Lancaster, Langeloth, Langhorne, Langhorne Manor, Lansdale, Lansdowne, Latrobe, Laurel Mountain Park, Laureldale, Leechburg, Leesport, Leetsdale, Lenhartsville, Lewisberry, Liberty, Ligonier, Lincoln, Lititz, Littlestown, Loganville, Long Branch, Lower Burrell, Lower Makefield, Lower Merion, Lyons, Macungie, Madison, Malvern, Manchester, Manheim, Manor, Manorville, Marcus Hook, Marianna, Marianna, Marietta, Marion Center, Mars, Maugansville, Mcdonald, Mckees Rocks, Mckeesport, Mcsherrystown, Media, Midway, Millbourne, Millersville, Millersville, Millvale, Modena, Mohnton, Monessen, Monongahela, Monroeville, Monroeville, Morrisville, Morton, Mount Joy, Mount Oliver, Mount Penn, Mount Pleasant, Mount Wolf, Mountville, Mt. Lebanon, Munhall, Murrysville, Narberth, Nazareth, New Alexandria, New Bedford, New Bethlehem, New Britain, New Eagle, New Florence, New Freedom, New Holland, New Hope, New Kensington, New Market, New Morgan, New Oxford, New Salem, New Stanton, Newtown, Norristown, North Apollo, North Braddock, North Catasauqua, North Charleroi, North Irwin, North Wales, North York, Northampton, Norwood, Oakdale, Oakmont, Oklahoma, Osborne, Oxford, Parker, Parkesburg, Parkside, Pen Argyl, Penn, Penn Hills, Penndel, Pennsburg, Pennsbury Village, Perkasie, Petrolia, Phoenixville, Pitcairn, Pittsburgh, Pleasant Hills, Plum, Plumville, Plymouth Meeting, Port Vue, Portersville, Portland, Pottstown, Prospect, Prospect Park, Punxsutawney, Quakertown, Quarryville, Radnor, Railroad, Rankin, Reading, Red Hill, Red Lion, Renfrew, Reynoldsville, Richlandtown, Ridley Park, Riegelsville, Rimersburg, Robesonia, Rockledge, Roscoe, Rose Valley, Roseto, Rosslyn Farms, Royersford, Rural Valley, Rutledge, Sabillasville, Saint Lawrence, Saint Petersburg, Saltsburg, Saxonburg, Scenery Hill, Schwenksville, Scottdale, Sellersville, Seven Fields, Seven Valleys, Seward, Sewickley, Sewickley Heights, Sewickley Hills, Sharon Hill, Sharpsburg, Sharpsburg, Shelocta, Shillington, Shippenville, Shoemakersville, Shrewsbury, Silver Spring, Silverdale, Sinking Spring, Slatington, Sligo, Slippery Rock, Smicksburg, Smithton, Souderton, South Bethlehem, South Coatesville, South Greensburg, Southampton, Speers, Spring City, Spring Grove, Springdale, Stewartstown, Stockdale, Stockertown, Strasburg, Strattanville, Strausstown, Summerville, Sutersville, Swarthmore, Swissvale, Sykesville, Tarentum, Tatamy, Telford, Temple, Terre Hill, Thornburg, Timblin, Topton, Trafford, Trainer, Trappe, Tredyffrin, Trumbauersville, Tullytown, Turtle Creek, Twilight, Unionville, Upland, Upper Dublin, Upper St. Clair, Valencia, Valencia, Vandergrift, Vernon, Verona, Versailles, Villanova, Walkersville, Wall, Walnutport, Wampum, Washington, Wellsville, Wernersville, West Alexander, West Brownsville, West Chester, West Conshohocken, West Easton, West Elizabeth, West Grove, West Homestead, West Kittanning, West Leechburg, West Liberty, West Middletown, West Mifflin, West Newton, West Reading, West Sunbury, West View, West York, Whitaker, White Oak, Whitehall, Whitehall, Whitehall, Wilkinsburg, Willow Street, Wilmerding, Wilson, Wind Gap, Windsor, Winterstown, Womelsdorf, Worthington, Worthville, Wrightsville, Wyomissing, Yardley, Yeadon, Yoe, York, York Haven, York Springs, Yorkana, Youngstown, Youngwood, Zelienople

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