Tawny-shouldered Blackbird Agelaius humeralis


The Tawny-shouldered Blackbird is found in Cuba and Hispaniola, this small blackbird is closely related to the Yellow-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius xanthomus) of Puerto Rico. In turn this pair of blackbirds then is the closest group to the Red-winged (A. phoeniceus), Tricolored (A. tricolor) and Red-shouldered (A. assimilis) blackbirds. The relationships and biogeography strongly suggest that the genus Agelaius evolved or at least radiated first in the Greater Antilles. The highly successful and widespread North American species were derived from an ancestor more like a Tawny-shouldered or Yellow-shouldered blackbird! The Tawny-shouldered is a relatively small blackbird, all black except for a tawny epaulet with a paler border. It is not a blackbird of marshes, but can be found in woodlands adjacent to grassy areas or marshes for example, in short it is an edge species. Males and females are essentially alike, and in their breeding system Tawny-shouldered Blackbirds appear to be monogamous. They forage both in trees and on the ground. The nest however is usually placed in a tree or bush, and many may nest close to each other in a semi-colonial state. Both sexes sing, and they may sing back to each other in a duet, usually the male initiating the display.

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© Eugene Morton

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Tawny-shouldered Blackbird (Agelaius humeralis), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/tasbla