Yellow-headed Blackbird

photo by Phil Swanson

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus
L 9 1/2″ (24 cm).

Song or calls:
Hoarse “krruck.” Song is loud, nasal “oka-wee-wee”; sounds like rusty door opening. 

Description: Adult male is black overall with a yellow head, throat, and breast and white wing patch. Adult female is dusky-brown above; lacks white wing patch; yellow to buffy-yellow eyebrow, lower cheek, throat, and breast; and dark belly is streaked with white. Juvenile is similar to female but head is brownish-yellow.

Bird Map

Habitat: Deep marshes, marshy areas of ponds and lakes, and other habitats with an abundance of cattails and bulrushes. Often found nesting near Red-winged Blackbirds, mostly using the deeper portions of the marsh.
Where in Nebraska: Common to abundant spring and fall migrant across the state. Locally common summer resident in permanent marshes.

Fun Facts: Male Yellow-headed Blackbirds will defend a small nesting territory and attract up to eight females to nest in the reeds. He will provide food for nestlings in the first nest established but the other females have to provide food all by themselves.

female Yellow-headed Blackbird - photo by Phil Swanson male Yellow-headed Blackbird - photo by Phil Swanson

(click image for larger view)