Thursday, February 25, 2016

2016 Rusty Blackbird Blitz

Rusty Blackbirds (c) HVI
Have you heard a squeaky-hinge song lately, or seen a flash of rust-tipped feathers under a bright yellow eye? Although occasionally overlooked as “just another blackbird,” Rusty Blackbirds face an unfortunate and remarkable notoriety: this species has endured a decline more severe than that of any other once-common landbird. In 2014, the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, eBird, and many other state, federal, and local partners, launched a three-year Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz that challenged birders to scour the landscape for Rusty Blackbirds during this species’ northward migration.  Between 1 March and 15 June 2014, 4750 birders submitted 13,400 checklists containing Rusty Blackbird observations to eBird; during the same time period in 2015, 4885 birders submitted 13,919 checklists containing Rusty Blackbird observations.  These first two hugely successful seasons have allowed us to start looking at potential Rusty Blackbird migratory hotspots, habitat use, and potential migratory pathways.

We hope you’ll consider participating in Year 3 – the final year – of the Blitz this spring!  It’s easy- bird as you normally do during the Blitz window (1 March through 15 June) and submit your data to eBird using the “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz” observation type.  To help you figure out when Rusties might be passing through your area, each region is assigned a set of target dates found here:  We’re collecting Blitz data from anywhere within our target states and provinces, but this
year, we’d also like birders to revisit Areas of Interest identified from 2014 and 2015 data to assess the consistency of Rusty Blackbird habitat use and migratory timing.  Check out our map of Areas of Interest for 2015 at

To learn more about Rusty Blackbirds and the Blitz effort, please visit our Migration Blitz website (, or check out our Blitz Facebook page ( 

We hope you’ll join us to Blitz for Blackbirds this spring!

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