White-browed Blackbirds

The White-browed Blackbirds, Sturnella superciliaris, is a passerine bird in the New World family Icteridae.

Despite its name and coloration, it is in the same genus as the meadowlarks and is less closely related to the Red-winged Blackbird group. It is unrelated to the European Blackbird, which is a thrush.

Distribution / Range

The White-browed Blackbirds breed in northeastern Brazil and in southern South America from southwestern Brazil through Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Southern populations are partially migratory.

Like other meadowlarks, it is a bird associated with open country, including moist grasslands, pasture, and cultivation, preferably with the odd bush or fence post for males to use as a signpost.

White-browed Blackbird has benefited from the more open habitat created by forest clearance and ranching and is extending its range.

White-browed Blackbird

Calls / Vocalization

In display, the male flies up to 10 m in the air, then parachutes down on folded wings whilst singing an initially buzzing song, followed by a series of notes TZZZZZZ-teee-chu-chu-chak-chak. The call is a short chuck.

Breeding / Nesting

The White-browed Blackbird builds a deep grass-lined open cup nest on the ground amongst tall grasses, with several nests often close together. The normal clutch is three to five reddish brown-blotched greenish eggs.

This species is often parasitised by the Shiny Cowbird, and on one occasion 19 cowbird eggs were found with one blackbird egg in a nest.


White-browed Blackbird is a small icterid.

The male has mainly black plumage, apart from a bright red throat, belly, and wing shoulder patches (epaulets), and a white supercilium.

Female White-browed Blackbird

The female has buff-edged dark brown upperpart feathers, buff underparts, and pale streaks through the crown and eye.

Juveniles resemble the females but are paler.

Similar Species ID: This species is very closely related to the Red-breasted Blackbird, S. militaris which breeds further north, and was formerly considered to be subspecies of that bird.

The male White-browed is easily distinguished by his bright white supercilium, but the females of the two species are almost identical. Female Red-breasted Blackbirds are longer billed, smaller, and shorter winged than White-browed, with more red and less streaking on the underparts.

Diet / Feeding

This gregarious bird feeds mainly on insects and some seeds, including rice, and forages on the ground like a Bobolink.

White-browed Blackbird, Sturnella superciliaris
White-browed Blackbird
Photo of author

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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