Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)


French: Carouge à tête jaune German: Brillenstärling Spanish: Tordo cabeciamarillo

Icterus xanthocephalus


, 1826,

Nebraska, USA




SC Canada (from interior British Columbia E to N Saskatchewan, SC Manitoba and SW & SE Ontario) S in W & C USA to California, C New Mexico, W & C Kansas, N Illinois, Michigan and NW extreme NW Mexico (NE Baja California); migrates to S USA and Mexico (S to N Oaxaca and Veracruz).

Descriptive notes

Male average 26·5 cm, 97 g; female average 21·5 cm, 59·3 g. Male has lores and narrow area around eye black, rest of head, throat and breast bright... read more


Male has two song types: “accenting song” is more musical, lasts for c. 1·5... read more


Wetlands in prairies, also wetlands associated with quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides),... read more

Food and feeding

Contents of 138 adult stomachs were 66% plant food and 34% animal food. Vegetal items predominantly weed seeds and cultivated seeds, the... read more


Season May–Jun; single-brooded. Polygynous; in Washington (USA) mean number of females per male territory or harem varied from 1... read more


Medium-distance and long-distance migrant. Winters in S USA (mainly C California E to New Mexico)... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common to uncommon, and locally numerous; generally uncommon in S of range. In Mexico, very local and uncommon breeder, and more widespread... read more

Recommended citation

Fraga, R. (2019). Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).