Volunteers are needed to map the Rusty Blackbird, a rapidly declining species.
The North American population of the Rusty Blackbird species has plunged an estimated 85 to 99 percent over the past 40 years. To help pinpoint where the remaining birds can be found, volunteers are needed for the third annual Rusty Blackbird Blitz taking place January 29 through February 13. This is when Rusty Blackbirds become easier to find and the population is relatively sedentary.
Join Birds of Devils Garden in volunteering to report the presence or absence of Rusty Blackbirds at www.ebird.org. Data gathered during the blitz will be used to create a map of wintering Rusty Blackbird “hot
spots” and will help focus research, monitoring, and conservation efforts. We have posted these hot spots in
a previous blog post; it's a cool program.
According to Cornell Lab of Ornithology, which alerted us to the Blitz event, “Rusty Blackbirds have pale “staring” eyes. In late January and early February, males will appear mostly black and females will have rusty edges on their wings and body. The Rusty Blackbird spends its winters in bottomland wooded-wetlands, primarily in American midwestern and southeastern states.” This includes Florida, so we'll be on the lookout.
The eBird program is led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and our friends at the National Audubon Society. The blitz is coordinated by the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center along with the Cornell Lab and Audubon. (Say that five times fast!)