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19 Birds Similar to a Red-Winged Blackbird

Red winged blackbird at Huntley meadows park Virginia.

You might be wondering if there are any other birds that look like red-winged blackbirds. Here are 20 birds that are similar in appearance to a red-winged blackbird!

What is a Red-Winged Blackbird?

First off, let’s look at what a red-winged blackbird is! These birds are usually found in marshes and they have black feathers. The male red-winged blackbird has red and yellow feathers on its wings, which is how it got its name. The female red-winged blackbird is mostly brown.

What is A Red-Winged Blackbird’s Habitat?

Red-winged blackbirds are found in different habitats depending on the time of year. In the spring and summer, they are usually found in marshes and wetlands. However, in the fall and winter, they can be found in fields, meadows, and even backyards!

What do Red-Winged Blackbirds Eat?

Red-winged blackbirds are mostly insectivores, but they will also eat fruits, seeds, and other small animals. They forage in fields and marshes for food. In the winter, when insects are scarce, they will switch to a diet of fruits and seeds.

Now that we know a little bit about red-winged blackbirds, let’s take a look at some other birds that are similar in appearance!

1. American Goldfinch

An american goldfinch that landed on a branch.

The American goldfinch is a small songbird with a yellow body and black wings. It is found in open woodlands and fields across North America.

  • How big it gets: 4-5 inches (10-13 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Forests, meadows
  • Behaviors: Singing, flocking
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: The American goldfinch is similar to a red-winged blackbird in size, habitat, and behavior. They are both small songbirds that are found in open woodlands and fields. They both eat seeds and insects, and they both enjoy singing!
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The American goldfinch is yellow with black wings, while the red-winged blackbird is black with red and yellow wings.
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2. Baltimore Oriole

Male baltimore oriole perched on a branch.

The Baltimore oriole is a small icterid blackbird that is found in North America. It is the state bird of Maryland. The adult male has a black head, back, and tail with an orange breast and belly.

The adult female is mostly olive-brown. The juvenile is like the female but with more brown and less orange. These birds are found in woods near streams.

They eat insects, berries, and nectar.

  • How big it gets: 7.5-9 inches (19-23 cm)
  • What it eats: insects, berries, and nectar
  • How long it lives: 6-8 years
  • Habitat: woods near streams
  • Behaviors: The male Baltimore oriole calls to attract a mate. It also builds a “pendant” nest. This is a nest that hangs from a branch or tree limb.

The female lays 3-5 eggs in the nest. Both parents help to feed the young birds.

  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: The Baltimore oriole is similar to a red-winged blackbird in size, habitat, and behavior. They are both small songbirds that are found in woods near streams.

They both eat insects and berries, and they both enjoy singing!

  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The Baltimore oriole is orange with black wings, while the red-winged blackbird is black with red and yellow wings.

3. House Finch

House finch female in winter.

The house finch is a small North American bird in the finch family. It ranges across much of the continental United States and Mexico. Adult male house finches are red, while females and immature males are brown or streaked with brown.

The red coloration of adult male house finches is due to carotenoids in their diet. Both sexes have dark brown streaks on their back and wings, and a small bill.

  • How big it gets: 6.25-7.75 in (16-20 cm)
  • How much it weighs: 1.4-2 oz (40-57 g)
  • What it eats: Seeds, fruits, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Found in open woods, farmlands, and suburban areas
  • Behaviors: The female house finch builds a nest out of twigs, rootlets, and other materials, and then lines it with softer materials such as feathers, hair, and plant down. The nest is built in a tree or shrub, often close to the ground.
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: The house finch is similar to a red-winged blackbird in size and habitat.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The house finch is red with brown streaks, while the red-winged blackbird is black with red and yellow wings. The house finch also has a small bill, while the red-winged blackbird has a larger bill.
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4. Purple Finch

Close-up of a purple finch bird.

The purple finch is a small songbird that is closely related to the American goldfinch. These birds are found in woods and forests across North America. They have stout bodies and short tails.

Their wings are rounded and their bills are cone-shaped. Male purple finches have reddish-purple plumage, while females are brownish with streaks on their chests. These birds eat seeds, berries, and insects.

  • How big it gets: 6-7 inches (15-18 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, berries, and insects
  • How long it lives: 6-8 years
  • Habitat: woods and forests
  • Behaviors: Forages on the ground; often in flocks
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: small songbird; found in woods and forests; stout body; short tail; wings are rounded; bill is cone-shaped
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: plumage on male purple finches is reddish-purple; females are brownish with streaks on their chests

5. Cassin’s Finch

Cassin's finch in flight.

The Cassin’s Finch is a beautiful bird that looks very similar to a Red-Winged Blackbird. These birds are found in the western parts of North America and are known for their beautiful singing voices. These birds are also very good at camouflaging themselves in their surroundings.

  • How big it gets: 6-7 inches (15-18 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 9 years in the wild
  • Habitat: Coniferous forests in the western parts of North America
  • Behaviors: Singing, Camouflaging
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: Size, colors, habitat, and behaviors
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The Cassin’s Finch has a brown streak on its head, whereas the Red-Winged Blackbird does not.
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6. Pine Siskin

A pine siskin perched on a mossy fence post.

The Pine Siskin is a small, sparrow-like bird with a streaked brown back and wings, a yellow belly, and a small, conical bill. Pine siskins are often seen in flocks feeding on thistle seeds and other small seeds.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-6 inches (11.4-15.2 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 11 years
  • Habitat: Coniferous forests in North America
  • Behaviors: Social, often forming flocks; can be aggressive towards other birds at feeders
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: Small size, sparrow-like appearance, streaked brown back and wings
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: Yellow belly, small conical bill

7. American Redstart

American redstart male in tree.

The American redstart is a small songbird with black wings and tail and a bright orange-red body. It is found in woodlands throughout the eastern United States. Like the red-winged blackbird, it is insectivorous and feeds primarily on insects caught in flight.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-6.75 in (11.4-17.1 cm)
  • What it eats: Small insects, such as flies, beetles, and caterpillars
  • How long it lives: 2-3 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands
  • Behaviors: Solitary or in pairs; seen singly or in small flocks
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: Black wings and tail, bright orange-red body
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: Smaller size; found in woodlands rather than marshes

8. Warbling Vireo

Warbling vireo singing in spring.

The warbling vireo is a small songbird found in North America. It is olive-green with white stripes on its back and a yellowish belly. This bird is very similar in appearance to the red-winged blackbird, although it is slightly smaller.

The warbling vireo is a habitat generalist and can be found in forests, woodlands, and even urban areas.

  • How big it gets: 5-6 inches (13-15 cm)
  • What it eats: insects
  • How long it lives: 6-9 years
  • Habitat: forests, woodlands, and urban areas
  • Behaviors: warbling song, often hangs upside down while feeding
  • Similarities to the red-winged blackbird: small size, olive-green with white stripes on back, yellowish belly
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: habitat generalist
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9. Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Rumped warbler perched on a mineral deposit.

The yellow-rumped warbler is a small songbird with a yellow breast and throat. The back and sides of the bird are gray, and there is a white stripe running down the center of the forehead. The wings are black with white spots, and the tail is black with white stripes.

The male yellow-rumped warbler has a black face, while the female has a gray face. The yellow-rumped warbler is found in North America, nesting in the boreal forests of Canada and wintering in the southern United States. The bird is named for its yellow rump, which is visible when the bird is flying.

  • How big it gets: The yellow-rumped warbler is 4.5 to 5.5 inches long.
  • What it eats: The yellow-rumped warbler eats insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates. The bird also eats fruit, particularly in the winter.
  • How long it lives: The yellow-rumped warbler typically lives for 2 to 3 years.
  • Habitat: The yellow-rumped warbler is found in forests, woodlands, and other habitats with trees.
  • Behaviors: The yellow-rumped warbler is a migratory bird, migrating from its nesting grounds in the boreal forests of Canada to its wintering grounds in the southern United States. The bird is also known to engage in a behavior called “migration mimicry.” This is when the warbler imitates the calls of other birds in order to confuse predators.
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: They are both migratory birds.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The yellow-rumped warbler also has a yellow rump, which is visible when the bird is flying.

10. Chipping Sparrow

Chipping sparrow resting on a branch.

The Chipping Sparrow is a small sparrow with a brown back and grayish-brown breast. It has a black cap and white cheeks. The wings are brown with white stripes. It is found in open woodlands and gardens.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-6 inches (11.4-15.2 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: 2-5 years
  • Habitat: Woodlands
  • Behaviors: Singing
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: Black cap and white cheeks
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: Smaller size; brown back and grayish-brown breast
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11. Clay-Colored Sparrow

Clay-colored sparrow walking on the grass.

The Clay-colored Sparrow is a small songbird with light brown upperparts, pale gray underparts, and a long tail. It has a light-colored face with a dark line through the eye. The Clay-colored Sparrow is found in open areas in the western United States and Mexico.

  • How big it gets: 5.5-6.5 inches (14-16 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: Up to 10 years
  • Habitat: Grasslands
  • Behaviors: The Clay-colored Sparrow is a social bird that often forms large flocks. It is a ground nester and builds its nest in a grassy area. The female lays 3-5 eggs which are incubated for 12-14 days. The young birds fledge (leave the nest) at about 10-12 days old.
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: Both are small songbirds with long tails. Both are found in open areas in the western United States and Mexico. Both have light-colored faces with dark lines through the eyes.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The Clay-colored Sparrow is paler overall with gray underparts. The Red-Winged Blackbird has black upper parts and red wing feathers.

12. Field Sparrow

A male field sparrow singing in the late evening light.

The field sparrow (Spizella pusilla) is a small sparrow. Adults have streaked brown upperparts, pale buff underparts, and a brown cap. They have a long, brown tail with white outer feathers.

The bill is pink with a dark tip. Field sparrows breeds in open fields and other habitats with little vegetation. The nest is built on the ground.

They eat seeds and insects. Field sparrows are found in eastern North America.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.75 inches (11.4-14.6 cm)
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • What it eats: Seeds and insects
  • Habitat: Open fields
  • Behaviors: Singing a simple trill song
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: Both are small sparrows with streaked brown upper parts. Both have pale buff underparts. Both have a long, brown tail with white outer feathers.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The field sparrow has a pink bill with a dark tip, while the red-winged blackbird has a yellow bill. The field sparrow is found in eastern North America, while the red-winged blackbird is found in North and South America. The field sparrow feeds on the ground, while the red-winged blackbird feeds in mid-air.
  • The field sparrow has a simple trill song, while the red-winged blackbird has a complex song.
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13. Brewer’s Sparrow

Brewer's sparrow with reflection in water.

The Brewer’s Sparrow is a medium-sized sparrow with brown-streaked upper parts and pale gray underparts. The face is gray with a yellowish eyebrow and a black line through the eye. It is found in open sagebrush country in the western United States.

  • How big it gets: 6.5-7 inches (16-18 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: 2-3 years
  • Habitat: Brewer’s Sparrows breed in sagebrush habitats in the western U.S. and Canada. In winter, they move to lower elevations and may be found in weedy fields and other open habitats.
  • Behaviors: The female Brewer’s Sparrow builds a cup nest of grasses, bark strips, and plant down, lined with hair. The nest is usually placed on the ground at the base of a bush or clump of grass. The female incubates the 3-5 eggs for 11-13 days.

Both parents feed the young birds, which leave the nest after 9-12 days.

  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: The Brewer’s Sparrow is similar to the Red-Winged Blackbird in size, habitat, and behavior. Both birds are found in open habitats in the western United States. Both birds build cup nests and feed their young on a diet of insects and seeds.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The Brewer’s Sparrow is gray with streaked upper parts, while the Red-Winged Blackbird is black with red wings. The Brewer’s Sparrow breeds in sagebrush habitats, while the Red-Winged Blackbird breeds in marshes.

14. Song Sparrow

Portrait photo of a singing sparrow while resting on a metal rod.

The song sparrow is a small sparrow with streaked brown upperparts and gray underparts. It has a brown cap with a gray median stripe and a rusty face. The wings are brown with two white bars.

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The tail is long and notched. It has a rusty breast with dark streaks. The bill is pink with a dark tip.

It has brown legs and feet.

  • How big it gets: Length: 5.5-6.25 in (14-16 cm)
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects, berries
  • How long it lives: Up to 15 years
  • Habitat: Breeds in open woods, weedy fields, and edges throughout much of North America. Winters in woods, brushy areas, and weedy fields.
  • Behaviors: The song sparrow is a shy bird that is often difficult to see. It forages on the ground in open areas, usually near cover.
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: The song sparrow is similar to the red-winged blackbird in size and habitat. Both birds are found in open habitats throughout North America. Both birds forage on the ground for seeds and insects.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: The song sparrow is streaked brown with a rusty breast, while the red-winged blackbird is black with red wings. The song sparrow has a pink bill with a dark tip, while the red-winged blackbird has a yellow bill.

15. Lincoln’s Sparrow

Lincoln's sparrow perched on a raspberry plant.

Lincoln’s Sparrow is a small sparrow with dark streaks on its buffy-white breast and face. The crown, nape, and sides of the neck are gray, and there is a rufous patch on the shoulder. The upper parts are brown with dark streaks.

The wings are brown with two white bars. The tail is long and pointed. The bill is short and dark. The legs and feet are pinkish-brown.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-6 inches (11.4-15.2 cm)
  • What it eats: insects, spiders, berries
  • How long it lives: about 2 years
  • Habitat: woods, edges, and grasslands
  • Behaviors: forages on the ground; nests in trees or shrubs
  • Similarities to A Red-Winged Blackbird: small size, streaked breast, and face, buffy-white underparts, rufous shoulder patch, pointed tail.
  • Differences from A Red-Winged Blackbird: gray crown and nape, pinkish-brown legs and feet.
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16. Vesper Sparrow

Vesper sparrow on a fence post.

The Vesper Sparrow is a small sparrow with streaked brown upperparts and white underparts. It has a rusty cap and a white face with a black line through the eye. It is found in open habitats across western North America.

  • How big it gets: 6 inches
  • What it eats: Seeds and insects
  • How long it lives: 2-3 years
  • Habitat: Grasslands
  • Behaviors: Forages on the ground; nests in grassy areas
  • Similarities to a red-winged blackbird: The Vesper Sparrow is similar to the red-winged blackbird in size and habitat. Both birds are found in open habitats across western North America. Both birds forage on the ground for seeds and insects.
  • Differences from a red-winged blackbird: The Vesper Sparrow is streaked brown with a white face, while the red-winged blackbird is black with a red shoulder patch. The Vesper Sparrow has a pink bill, while the red-winged blackbird has a yellow bill.

17. Grasshopper Sparrow

Grasshopper sparrow singing from a stake.

The grasshopper sparrow is a small bird with a brown-streaked back and white belly. They have a light brown cap and a white eyebrows. They are found in open grasslands and meadows across North America.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.75 inches (11.4-14.6 cm)
  • What it eats: Grasshopper sparrows eat insects, especially grasshoppers. They also eat seeds and berries.
  • How long it lives: The average lifespan of a grasshopper sparrow is 2-3 years.
  • Habitat: Grasshopper sparrows prefer grasslands and meadows with little to no trees.
  • Behaviors: These birds are very shy and secretive. They spend most of their time on the ground, running and hopping rather than flying. The grasshopper sparrow builds a small nest on the ground, lined with grasses and other soft materials.
  • Grasshopper sparrows lay 3-5 eggs which are pale blue with brown spots. Some grasshopper sparrows migrate south for the winter, but many stay in their breeding range year-round.
  • Similarities to a red-winged blackbird: The grasshopper sparrow is similar to the red-winged blackbird in size and habitat. Both birds are found in open habitats across North America.
  • Differences from a red-winged blackbird: The grasshopper sparrow is streaked brown with a white belly, while the red-winged blackbird is black with a red shoulder.
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18. Clay-colored Sparrow

Clay-colored sparrow singing in spring.

The Clay-colored Sparrow is a small sparrow with streaked brown upperparts and buff underparts. It has a gray cap and a white face with a black line through the eye. It is found in open habitats across western North America.

  • How big it gets: 5.5-6.7 in (14-17 cm)
  • What it eats: Insects, spiders, and other small arthropods
  • How long it lives: 4 years
  • Habitat: Grasslands, meadows, and prairies
  • Behaviors: Singing a buzzy trill
  • Breeding: nests are built on the ground in dense grass
  • Similarities to a red-winged blackbird: Both birds are found in North America. Both birds have black markings on their wings. Both birds eat insects.
  • Differences from a red-winged blackbird: The Clay-colored Sparrow is smaller than the Red-winged Blackbird. The Clay-colored Sparrow has a gray cap while the Red-winged Blackbird has a black cap.

19. Chipping Sparrow

A chipping sparrow sitting on a dead limb.

The Chipping Sparrow is a small sparrow with a rounded head and streaked upper parts. The face is pale with a dark line through the eye. This sparrow is found in open habitats across North America, where it forages on the ground for seeds and insects.

The Chipping Sparrow builds a nest of grasses and strips of bark, which it often places in a tree cavity or on a building ledge.

  • How big it gets: 4.5-5.75 inches
  • What it eats: Seeds, insects
  • How long it lives: 1-5 years
  • Habitat: Mostly open habitats, including woods edges, fields, and yards.
  • Behaviors: Chipping Sparrows are social birds that often form flocks with other small birds. During the breeding season, these sparrows are territorial and will chase away other birds that come too close to their nest.
  • Similarities to a red-winged blackbird: Both birds are found in North America. Both birds eat insects and seeds.
  • Differences from a red-winged blackbird: The Chipping Sparrow is smaller than the Red-winged Blackbird.
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Frequently Asked Questions

How do red-winged blackbirds reproduce?

Red-winged blackbirds mate for life. The male and female form a bond and share the responsibilities of parenting. They build a nest together, and the female lays 3 to 5 eggs. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and feeding the chicks.

When the chicks are old enough, they help feed the younger ones.

What is the difference between a male and female red-winged blackbird?

Males and females look very similar, but males are slightly larger than females. They also have different plumage colorations. Males have black wings with a red shoulder patch, while females have brown wings with a yellow shoulder patch.

How can you tell a juvenile red-winged blackbird apart from an adult?

Juvenile red-winged blackbirds are difficult to identify because they look very similar to adult birds. The best way to tell them apart is by their plumage coloration. Juveniles have grayish-brown wings and a brown body, while adults have black wings and a red shoulder patch.