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Novajanet

Identify black bird white shoulders northern Virginia Feb 2011

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Saw a pair of birds in my northern Virginia yard today, 12 Feb 2011. Never seen them before. Seems most similar to a red-winged blackbird, except the shoulder stripe is white. Looking online for similar birds, I read up on tricolored blackbirds, which only occur on west coast. One of the pair might show a tinge of red at front of the white shoulder stripe. What is this bird?

 

 

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These are Red-winged Blackbirds.  They can maneuver their feathers such that the red lesser coverts can be concealed.  Pictures can be uploaded on the Options tab.  Welcome to WhatBird!

 

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Thanks, I thought they must be red-winged blackbirds. I don't think I've ever seen them in my yard and seldom in the nearby area. What is the advantage of concealing the red? They came back and forth several times today, and they always looked like this (without red showing).

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The red epaulet is used as a territorial display to other males especially during breeding season.  Most other times it remains covered.

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