Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz 2016

Welcome to Year 3 of the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz!

Although scientists have made huge strides in understanding Rusty Blackbirds on their breeding and wintering grounds – partly thanks to the original Rusty Blackbird Winter Blitz  – we know surprisingly little about the migratory requirements and habits of this species. Are there hot spots where many individuals congregate during migration?  Are similar migratory stopover areas used by Rusties each year?  Are stopover areas protected, or might availability of these areas be limiting Rusty Blackbird survival?

To address these questions, the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, in partnership with eBird, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Vermont Center for Ecostudies, launched a Spring Migration Blitz in March 2014.  This Blitz challenges birders to seek out the elusive Rusty Blackbird throughout its migratory range, from the southern United States, through the Midwest and along the East Coast, and up into Canada.

During our 2014 inaugural season, 4570 birders submitted 13,400 checklists reporting Rusty Blackbirds to eBird. The 2015 Blitz built on this impressive beginning, with 4885 birders submitting 13,919 checklists.  Our third and final Spring Migration Blitz will kick off on March 1, and we once again challenge birders to search high and low for Rusty Blackbirds. In addition to reporting Rusties throughout each state or province, this year we urge birders to revisit 2016 Areas of Interest, locations that supported large flocks of Rusties in 2014 and 2015. By exploring areas that supported large numbers of Rusties last spring, we will be able to evaluate the consistency of habitat use and migratory timing throughout the Rusties’ migratory habitat. Check the Areas of Interest tab for an interactive map of Areas of Interest.

We encourage all experienced birders to participate in the Blitz; submit your Rusty sightings to eBird, or contact your state coordinator for more information on how to get involved!