The term blackbird loosely refers to a diverse group of about 10 species of North American birds that belong to the subfamily Icterinae. The various species of blackbirds have several traits in common Description The term blackbird refers to a variety of North American birds which share common characteristics such as black feathers, predominantly seed-based diets, and congregational roosting behaviors. Common types of blackbirds found throughout the United States include common grackles, red-winged blackbirds, and brown-headed cowbirds. Because these birds share many similar behaviors, they are often seen roosting and feeding in large groups together, along with other species of blackbirds and starlings. Appearance Each type of blackbird is relatively small and sports black plumage, but identifying markings may vary between species. Common grackles have an oil-like iridescent sheen to their black feathers and longer tails than other kinds of blackbirds. Red-winged blackbirds sport bright red shoulder patches on their wings. Brown-headed cowbirds, a species most often found on farms, are identified by their black bodies, brown heads, and short pointed beaks used for eating seeds and grains. Habitat Blackbirds prefer to roost in wooded areas and marshes near farmlands. The birds nest apart from each other to raise their young in the spring and early summer, and congregate into flocks of thousands or even millions in the late summer and fall. With a seed-based diet, large flocks of birds tend to descend upon fields, lawns, and farms to eat cereal grains, corn, rice, nuts, and fruit. Although blackbirds also eat insects and bugs, their destructive feeding on farm crops is what makes them potentially dangerous nuisances. Entry Are blackbirds known to enter homes or yards? Birds normally roost in trees or building exteriors and do not enter human habitations, unless the structure is inviting to them. Rotted fascia and soffit boards, along with missing/broken attic vents, allow birds to invade attics. Some birds in rural areas may nest in the rafters of open barns or along the exterior ledges of buildings, which causes problems when their droppings bombard pedestrians below. Damage Do blackbirds harm people or property? Damage caused by blackbirds eating crops and seeds totals millions of dollars each year in the United States and is increasingly a problem. The birds can also transmit diseases such as toxoplasmosis, encephalitis, and salmonella in urban areas. Insect pests and parasites may use the birds as host animals, and nesting materials may clog drains and gutters. Blackbirds do not attack people. Control and Safety Most species of blackbirds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918; however, the law allows individuals to eliminate blackbirds that pose a threat to their crops or property. The most common and effective methods of blackbird control include frightening the birds with loud noises or playing bird distress calls over loudspeakers. Trapping and Removal As the migratory birds often flock together in large numbers, trapping is not a viable option for blackbird removal. In order to remove infestations of blackbirds from your property, contact a trained wildlife removal specialist. Our professional technicians have the resources and training to safely and efficiently take care of blackbird problems of any size. Attempting to remove wild animals without the aid of a professional can be dangerous. We can help you get rid of blackbird problems. Call today: 1.800.274.8837.