Sunday, March 1, 2015

Rusty Blackbirds Have Declined Up to 95%

It is estimated that the population of rusty blackbirds has declined by as much as 95% in the last fifty years of so. this is one of the most precipitous declines ever noted for any North American bird.

Rusty blackbirds use wooded lowland swamps in the Southeastern United States as their primary wintering grounds. They can be found right here in Mecklenburg and surrounding counties in appropriate habitat. Four Mile Creek Greenway, Lower McAlpine Greenway, and McMullen Creek Greenway can be especially good locations, but any where there is standing water in lowland hardwood forests will attract them.

To help better understand the decline and basic requirements of this species, the Rusty Blackbird working Group has been formed to collect migration data and favored wintering spots. For the entire month of March birders observing rusty blackbirds are encouraged to enter their sightings into a database.

Rusty blackbirds have piercing yellow eyes and rusty feather edges in fresh plumage. By spring, the birds have molted into an overall dull charcoal color.

Rusty Blackbird by John Ennis

Look for them as they pass through in March in hardwood swamps with puddles of standing water.

Rusty Blackbird by John Ennis