Agelaius phoeniceus EditAnimalia----Tetrapoda----Aves (Birds)----Passeriformes (Perching birds)---Passeri---Icteridae (Blackbirds)----Agelaius----A. phoenicius
Any patch of cattails seems to be home for a Red-winged Blackbird, and when you drive by roadside ditches with cattails the black males stand out from a distance. It may be a few years before the Red-winged Blackbird starts overwintering in Alberta, at the moment it is still too cold. The closest overwintering sites for these birds are only a state below Alberta where the temperature can reach up to -11 in cold winters. If the temperature in Alberta is rising then we can expect to add the Red-winged Blackbird to our resident list fairly soon (the map below is just an estimate of its range in a few years, or maybe the present if the temperature is warm enough). During the mating season the adult males will perch on an "outpost" such as a fence, on top of a street lamp or just simply the highest cattail stem. The males are highly territorial and will chase after large birds sometimes even as large as Northern Harriers (see picture below left) but for larger animals such as deer and myself they normally just sit and squawk constantly (you can often approach them very closely in this stage).
Females are less tame and fly away at any hint of a threatening presence but in some park areas where humans are commonly seen on a daily basis they may be tamer. The "song" of this bird (and some of its relatives such as grackles) are not very musical but are unique to America's fauna so they can be appreciated in a different way.