My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

The Brewer’s blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) is a medium-sized New World blackbird. It is named after the ornithologist Thomas Mayo Brewer.

Adult males have black plumage with an iridescent purple head and neck and glossy bluish-green highlights on the rest of the body. The feet and legs are black and the eye is bright yellow. The female is brownish-grey with slight hints of the male’s iridescence. The female’s eye is dark brown. Overall, they resemble the eastern member of the same genus, the rusty blackbird; however, the Brewer’s blackbird has a shorter bill and the male’s head is iridescent purple. This bird is often mistaken for the common grackle but has a shorter tail. The call is a sharp check which is also distinguishable. This bird is in a different family from the Eurasian blackbird.

Their breeding habitat is open and semi-open areas, often near water, across central and western North America. The cup nest can be located in various locations: in a tree, in tall grass or on a cliff. They often nest in colonies.

These birds are often permanent residents in the west. Other birds migrate to the southeastern United States and Mexico. The range of this bird has been expanding east in the Great Lakes region.

They forage in shallow water or in fields, mainly eating seeds and insects, some berries. They sometimes catch insects in flight. They feed in flocks outside of the breeding season, sometimes with other blackbirds.

On to my photos:

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

 

Brewer's Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

Brewer’s Blackbird, Euphagus cyanocephalus, female

This is number 182 in my photo life list, only 168 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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16 responses

  1. Thanks for the information and all those lovely pictures of the birds in question.

    January 24, 2016 at 8:14 am

    • Thank you very much Susan!

      January 24, 2016 at 2:58 pm

  2. Nice of them to pose so well for you!

    January 24, 2016 at 9:26 am

    • Thanks Allen, it was nice of them to pose so nicely.

      January 24, 2016 at 2:58 pm

  3. Such differences between the sexes! Looks like females don’t even have the yellow eye – must make the id process even tougher.

    January 24, 2016 at 10:27 am

    • Thank you very much Judy! I actually identified these by the song of the male, otherwise I would have thought that they were grackles.

      January 24, 2016 at 3:00 pm

  4. I checked ODFW’s site. We do have them here too, and I have most likely been mistaking them for Grackles. Thank you!

    January 24, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    • Thanks Lavinia! I would have mistaken them for grackles in the past, but I was looking for these, tipped off by other people’s sighting.

      January 24, 2016 at 3:01 pm

  5. I can understand IDing with the female, but the male does look so much like a grackle. I guess I need to start listening to see if I’m sighting a Brewer’s Blackbird! Thanks for sharing, Jerry, always great to learn something new about birds!

    January 25, 2016 at 10:31 am

    • Thanks Donna! It’s hard to list everything that made it relatively easy to ID this blackbird, but I knew almost the second that I spotted it that it deserved a closer look as it probably was’t a grackle. The way it walked and behaved overall was different, it may not look that way in the photos, but it had a slightly different color cast to it, and when I heard it, that was the clincher.

      January 25, 2016 at 12:53 pm

  6. Fabulous photo series, I’m really enjoying your post and project.

    January 25, 2016 at 11:15 am

    • Thank you very much Charlie!

      January 25, 2016 at 12:50 pm

  7. I like how you managed to show the iridescence on the feathers. Nice looking bird and good shots of it too.

    January 25, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    • Thank you very much Clare! I lucked out in that I found this species on a sunny day which is why my photos came out so well.

      January 26, 2016 at 12:07 am

  8. Thank you for this post–one of the first birds I learned how to identify years ago! Brings back good memories!

    January 25, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    • Thank you very much Lori!

      January 26, 2016 at 12:06 am