Brewer’s Blackbirds are everywhere you look. There are in the grocery store parking lot, at your backyard feeders, in the park, at the farm, and in the trees. We find them at sea level and up to 8000 feet elevation.
The males are glossy black, blue and iridescent green, they glisten in the sun. The females, as with so many female birds, are a bit more understated. They are a plain brown and lack the male’s bright eye. These are long-legged, ground-foraging birds you will see in the parking lots as well as in the trees and shrubs of cities and towns.
They have adapted well to living with us looking for crumbs we leave behind. Eating mostly seeds, grains and some berries, they also like insects, sometimes catching them in mid-air or off the backs of farm animals. If you have bird feeders, you may attract more of these by putting seed at ground level or using an open platform feeder.
In our area, Brewer’s Blackbirds remain year round. But in the central part of the country, they may migrate 1500 miles from central North America to southern United States and southern Mexico for the winter.
Brewer’s Blackbirds are very social and may nest in colonies up to 100 birds. The females choose the nest site. She builds the nest with twigs, dried grass, rootlets and hair using mud or manure to keep it all together. Eggs are variable in color and pattern helping to camouflage them in the nest. Brewer’s Blackbirds may have 1 to 2 broods per season with 3 to 7 eggs each.
Incubation is 11 to 17 days, and the little birds stay in the nest for 12 to 16 days before fledging. At hatching, they weight an eighth of an ounce.
They love to bathe. If you have a small pond or a bird bath, watch for them in spring and summer. And if you are near one of their nesting colonies, you may find them dunking insects in your bird bath before taking them to their nestlings.
Though they do eat grains from farmland, they more of a benefit to farmers than a pest. They have curbed outbreaks of weevils, cutworms, termites, grasshoppers and more.
Watch for them the next time you are at the grocery store. They will be scurrying under cars and around bushes looking for their next meal.