Blackbirds, Orioles, and Meadowlarks of Columbia County, Oregon

Blackbirds, orioles, and meadowlarks are “Icterids”, a family of medium-sized songbirds, many of which frequent grasslands or grassy wetlands. They are notable in that the males are typically black, often with colorful highlights, while the females tend to be a drab brown color. The Horned Lark, despite similarity to a Meadowlark in name and appearance, comes from an unrelated family.

Brewer's Blackbird male female northwest oregon columbia county
Brewer’s Blackbird – Males glossy black with yellow eye, females dull gray with dark eye. Found in fields and other open areas, often near water. (photo © Alexandre Cowles)
Red-winged Blackbird  male female northwest oregon columbia county
Red-winged Blackbird – Males black with red and yellow wingpatch, females mottled brown with eyestripe and streaked breast. Prefers wetlands, especially with cattail. (photo © Drew T Henderson)
Yellow-headed Blackbird  male female northwest oregon columbia county
Yellow-headed Blackbird – Males black with yellow head/breast, females brown with yellow face/breast. Found in marshes, especially with cattail. (photo © Brandon Trentler)
Bobolink blackbird columbia county oregon
Bobolink – Males black and white with yellow on the back of the head. Females light brown with darker mottled wings and a black/white cap. Found in fields and prairies. (photo © Paul Lewis)
Brown-headed Cowbird male female northwest oregon columbia county
Brown-headed Cowbird – Males black with brown heads, females lighter brown. Found in open areas, often grazing lands. Lays eggs in the nests of other birds. (photo © Fabio Moretzsohn)
bullock's oriole northwest oregon columbia county
Bullock’s Oriole – Males orange-yellow with black backs and white on wings, females grayish-brown with hint of yellow and white. Found in broadleaf trees on habitat edges. (photo © Ken Schnider)
Western Meadowlark northwest oregon columbia county
Western Meadowlark – Mottled brown with eyestripes. Breeding adults have yellow chest with a black V. Now a Sensitive Species in our region due to loss of its meadow habitat. (photo © Ad Konings)
horned lark northwest oregon columbia county
Horned Lark – Smaller bill than the Western Meadowlark, with a draber upper body and white underparts. Males have a black facemask. Found in open areas such as fields. (photo © Ken Chamberlain)

The Rusty Blackbird also visits our area on very rare occasions.

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