Its brilliant yellow head, together with its loud, rusty-hinge call, make the Yellow-headed Blackbird a conspicuous presence in Great Salt Lake wetlands. It breeds in loose colonies and places its nest over water, attached to cattails and reeds.
One of the first birds identified as I guide groups of young scouts at Farmington Bay, the Yellow-headed Blackbird will allow the boys to approach them much closer that any other bird which is a real treat for the kids and it makes them one of the easiest birds to photograph.
Even though they are very common, most of the first time visitors to Farmington Bay have never seen a Yellow-headed black bird before.
Head, neck, and breast bright yellow. Body black. Black stripe in front of eye to bill. White patches in wing may be visible while perched, or hidden; conspicuous in flight.
Juvenile buffy with dark flecks, dark wings and tail, and two large white wingbars; seen only on breeding grounds. Young quickly become similar to adult female. Immature male has more extensive yellow and a thin white patch in the wing.
The Yellow-headed Blackbird nests in the Central and Western United States and winters in Southwestern U.S. and Mexico
The Yellow-headed Blackbird often nests in the same marsh as the Red-winged Blackbird. The larger Yellow-headed Blackbird is dominant to the Red-winged Blackbird, and displaces the smaller blackbird from the prime nesting spots. The Yellow-headed Blackbird is strongly aggressive toward Marsh Wrens too, probably because of the egg-destroying habits of the wrens. When the Yellow-headed Blackbird finishes breeding and leaves the marsh, Marsh Wrens expand into former blackbird territories.
The male Yellow-headed Blackbird defends a small territory of prime nesting reeds. He may attract up to eight females to nest within his area. The male helps feed nestlings, but usually only in the first nest established in his territory. The other females have to feed their young all by themselves.