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Red-Winged Blackbirds Back On Territory!

Today's Report Includes:

Red-Winged Blackbirds Back On Territory!
Male Red-winged Blackbirds are arriving in record-breaking time in northern marshes! They've arrived as far north as Ontario Canada from their wintering grounds in the southern U.S. Many observers reported that the weather has been particularly warm this spring, with some of the earliest sightings in recent memory. Their return even surprised us at the Journey North office!

"The red-winged blackbirds returned to our swamp on Sunday! This is the 1st time I've ever recorded a February return. Past years were: 3/16/99, 3/5/98, 3/11/97, 3/15/96, 3/13/95." Elizabeth Howard, Journey North Office in Wayzata, MN 02/27/00 (

"They're Back! The male Redwings arrived here in the Chain of Lakes Area in Northeast Illinois. They arrived through the night and early in the morning on Sunday Feb. 27th and the males have already staked out their territories, awaiting the females. The ice is out as well, with the warm weather we have been having." 02/27/00 Steve Scott, Antioch Community High School, in Antioch, IL (

"Red-winged Blackbirds singing in a marsh near Lexington High School. The earliest I remember here!!" Fran Ludwig, Lexington Public Schools in Lexington, MA 02/29/00 (

"Jackie and Heather spotted 2 red-winged blackbirds in a field close to the road near Random Lake on their way to school today at 7:12AM. The birds were perched on cattail stalks and were about four feet apart from each other." Random Lake Middle School in Random Lake, WI 02/29/00 (

On Thin Ice
Research what Red-winged Blackbirds eat, and where they winter. Then see if you can answer:

Challenge Question #5:
"Why do you think redwings return just as marshes are thawing each spring?"

(To respond to this question, please follow the instructions below.)

Try This! Fun Field Studies You Can Do
When the blackbirds arrive in your hometown, try these field observations and activities you can do with red-winged blackbirds:

* Watch for Mrs. Red-winged Blackbird
The females won't appear until about 2 weeks after the males, but you'll know when they've arrived: Watch for the males' territorial displays to intensify. (Pull out your Field Guide though--females look completely different from males--more like large sparrows.)

Listen to the Red-winged Blackbird's Song
Wait for download; 130 K file.
Recording Courtesy of
Lang Elliott

* Listen to a recording of the Red-winged Blackbird's song:

* Move Over Jesse Ventura! Make action figures and do other activities BEFORE redwings start actually nesting. (Once they are feeding babies, it's best to leave them alone to take care of their young.):

How to Respond to Today's Challenge Questions:

Please answer ONLY ONE question in each e-mail message!

1. Address an E-mail message to:
2. IMPORTANT: In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #5
3. In the body of the message, give your answer to the question above.

The Next Regular Schedule "Signs of Spring" Update Will be Posted on March 13, 2000.

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