- Created on Saturday, 29 March 2014 11:33
Rusty Blackbird Spring Blitz
Rusty Blackbird populations have plummeted by over 85% in the past half century and no one knows why. Recognition of the catastrophic decline of this once-common bird eluded birders and conservation biologists until the past decade. Now a group of international investigators lead by Judith Scarl at the Vermont Center for Ecostudies plans to study this problem by collecting data during the Rusty Blackbird's spring migration.
Rusty Blackbirds breed in marshes and bogs in the boreal forest in Canada and the northern United States. Vermont is at the southeastern edge of the Rusty Blackbird's breeding grounds. During the Second Vermont Breeding Bird Survey nesting sites for this frequently overlooked bird declined in the western part of Vermont, but increased in the northeastern highlands, possibly due to increased effort directed toward finding their nests. Understanding the factors affecting Rusty Blackbirds on their breeding grounds, wintering habitat, and migration stopovers will be a good first step toward stabilizing the population.
To study Rusty Blackbird migration the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group has initiated the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz in cooperation with eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and VCE. The group has assigned migration target dates for 38 states and 9 provinces, asking birders to visit likely stopover points and document their observations in eBird. Optional data collection sheets are available, as well. For Vermont the target dates are March 15 through the end of April. This study will be repeated in each of the next three years. For more information about this project and identification tips visit the Rusty Blackbird Working Group website at http://www.rustyblackbird.org.
Let's get out there and find those birds!