Brewer's Blackbird

Euphagus cyanocephalus

A shiny blue-green blackbird, the Brewer's Blackbird is common in agricultural and suburban habitats of the West. It has taken advantage of human modifications of the environment to expand its range eastward.

Interesting Information

  • The Brewer's Blackbird spread its range eastward from western Minnesota in the 20th century, taking advantage of human-produced changes in landscape. Where it overlaps with the Common Grackle, the blackbird takes over the open grassy areas, while the grackle dominates in urban and suburban areas.

  • The Brewer's Blackbird nests in compact colonies, numbering from a few pairs to more than one hundred. Occasionally a pair will nest solitarily away from a colony. In the colony a female (sometimes aided by a male) defends a small area directly around her nest site.

  • Within a colony most females choose the same kind of nest site, indicating that females follow the lead of the first nest builders. A colony may change its nest preference from year to year, building all nests in small bushes one year, and in tall trees the next.


Adult Description

  • Size: 20-25 cm (8-10 in)

  • Wingspan: 37 cm (15 in)

  • Weight: 47-67 g (1.66-2.37 ounces) Medium-sized songbird.

  • Medium-long tail.

  • Bill thin and pointed.

  • Male iridescent black with purple and green highlights, female dull gray-brown.

  • Tail square or slightly rounded.

Sex Differences

Male iridescent black. Female dull gray-brown and slightly smaller.


Black all over. Head and neck have purplish iridescence. Body has blue-green iridescence. Shows contrast between colors of head and body. Wing and tail edged with brown. Eyes pale yellow or white.


Grayish brown. Light purplish gloss on head and neck. Faint metallic greenish sheen on body. Wings and tail darker and glossier. Sides of head paler than crown. Dark eyeline. Eyes light to dark brown.


Juvenile is similar to adult female, but paler and without gloss. Some immature males have brown feather edging.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


Found in a variety of habitats, but prefers open, human-modified areas, such as farmland, fields, residential lawns, and urban parks.


Forages on ground, often in large flocks with other blackbirds.


Insects, grain, seeds, and small fruits.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Icteridae
Genus: Euphagus
Species: Euphagus cyanocephalus

Similar Species

  • Rusty Blackbird similar, breeds farther east and north. Rusty has shorter legs, shorter tail, thinner and more pointed bill with slight droop at tip. Male Rusty Blackbird is less glossy and shows no contrast between head and body. Female Rusty Blackbird has yellow eyes and is slate-gray rather than brownish gray. Caution: up to 10% of female Brewer's have yellow eyes.

  • Common Grackle larger, has larger and thicker bill, and longer wedge-shaped tail.

  • Shiny Cowbird male has dark eye and shorter bill.

Bird Sound

Song a harsh whirring gurgling "schl-r-r-up." Call a sharp "tschup."

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution


Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird Bathing

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird Female #1

Brewer's Blackbird

Brewer's Blackbird Female #2