This video of Tricolored Blackbird shows the early stages of colony formation, called a settlement, at a small freshwater marsh in Los Angeles County. The males, with their glossy black plumage with red epaulettes and white wing bars, are courting (calling and displaying) to the dull, heavily streaked females that have just arrived to the marsh. Some females have already selected mates and are beginning to build their nests in the cattails. The Tricolored Blackbird is a near-endemic California songbird that forms large breeding colonies at many low-elevation sites, but due to widespread habitat losses and chronic low reproductive success, the number of Tricolored Blackbird has plummeted recently and the species was listed as Endangered under the California Endangered Species Act in December, 2014. The recovery of the species will take years and depend upon the efforts of many at locations throughout California.
Robert J. Meese, UC Davis