I saw a small flock of Rusty Blackbirds (for the first time in at least 5 years) on the lawn of my office building a few weeks ago. I flex late at work, so it was probably 6pm or so. I was waiting to pull into traffic and noticed them with a plethora of Robins (what is the collective noun for a load of Robins? But, I digress.) It was hard to miss that beady yellow eye. I was thrilled so see them again.Then last night I learned that there is a survey going on to try to understand what is happening with their population. What, you didn’t know there was a problem? Well, I didn’t know either. Or at least I didn’t know there was THIS kind of problem.
Rusty Blackbirds have experienced a dramatic decrease in numbers in the past several decades, with population declines estimated at 88% to 98% since the Breeding Bird Survey began in the 1960s!
Scientists are working to understand why this blackbird has plummeted in numbers, but they need our help. We are asked to submit our observations of Rusty Blackbirds throughout spring migration to eBird, and are especially urged to participate in a special Rusty Blackbird project from April 1 to 7. So, next week, researchers want us to submit information about habitat use, blackbird behavior, and flock size as part of their eBird reports, so that bird conservationists can gain a better understanding of preferred migratory habitats and how migratory habitat loss might be contributing to population declines.
If all goes well they can better tailor the survey for fall migration, and possibly do some target outreach during winter as
well. To learn more about Rusty Blackbirds and this special eBird tracking project. Click there.
Now let’s get out and find some Rusty Blackbirds.