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Get your Blitz On: Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz opens March 1st

Spring male Rusty Blackbird.

Have you seen a flash of rust-tipped feathers under a bright yellow eye? Or perhaps you’ve enjoyed the dubiously melodious sound of a squeaky-hinge song? Previously a common sight in mixed-blackbird flocks and flooded forests, Rusty Blackbirds now face an unfortunate and remarkable notoriety; this species has endured a decline more severe than any other once-common landbird, with population decreases of 85-95% over the past half-century. Understanding the ecology of this vulnerable species is critical for developing strategies to reverse these declines and protect this species. The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz encourages you to bird for conservation- support an initiative to identify conservation challenges and develop strategies to conserve a vulnerable songbird!

The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz opens on March 1, 2014; this international event challenges birders to scour the landscape for Rusty Blackbirds during this species’ northward migration. The Blitz aims to identify important migratory stopover sites for Rusties, assess the consistency of stopover use and timing, and create increased awareness regarding Rusty Blackbird conservation. 38 states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 3 territories will seek Rusty Blackbirds as this species returns to its breeding grounds; each region is assigned a set of target dates during which local birders will search for this elusive species. We encourage all birders to participate; simply bird as you normally do during your region’s date range and report your observations to eBird under the “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz” survey type. Visit the Spring Migration Blitz Data Collection page to explore additional data collection and submission resources, including our data collection instructions guidelines and our optional Blitz datasheet that allows you to record additional information about the Rusty Blackbirds you observe.

Data from the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz will inform future Rusty Blackbird conservation and research efforts, so please join us this spring to “get Rusty” for conservation!

The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz is a partnership between the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, eBird, and many other state, federal, and local partners.

Judith C. Scarl
Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz International Coordinator