Yellow-headed Blackbird

Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus

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  • Yellow-headed Blackbird |  Photo: Matt Myatt, OR Dept. F&W
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird |  Photo: Matt Myatt, OR Dept. F&W by v8.6m

Yellow-headed Blackbird Photo Gallery

Basic Information






Yellow-headed Blackbirds are generally between 8.25 and 10.25 inches in length.


up to 12.25 years


Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) facts, habitat, range, pictures and bird watching tips to help you identify the songbird.




Ground Forager


Migratory: Midwest-Western U.S.

Nest Placement


Number of Offspring

3–5 Eggs

Egg Description

Dull White with brown specks

Condition at Hatching

Feeble, eyes closed, pink skin with patchy down

Social Status

Flocks, Colonies


16.25-17.5 in

What does the Yellow-headed Blackbird look like?

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are large stout songbirds that are a delight for birders. Adult males are striking. Their heads and chests are a brilliant yellow that contrasts sharply with their jet-black bodies and eye patches. Their black bills are thick, conical and sharply pointed. They also have white patches on their wings that are slightly visible when perched, but very obvious in flight. Females and juveniles are brown and their heads are a much duller yellow.

Yellow-headed Blackbird Habitat


Yellow-headed Blackbird Facts

Yellow-headed Blackbirds are showy songbirds common in western marshlands. The large birds are known to fiercely defend their territory, especially against Marsh Wrens who often destroy other bird's eggs. Yellow-headed Blackbirds are common where there are Red-winged Blackbirds, but are larger and dominate thus take prime nesting locations. Males may nest with up to eight females, but will only help feed the first nest established within its territory, leaving the other females to fend for the nestlings themselves. Its scientific name, "Xanthocephalus", translates to “yellow head.” Its song is a buzzing screech that sounds similar to a rusty hinge opening.

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