Data Collection

Collecting data for the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz is easy!  First, make sure you can accurately identify a Rusty Blackbird and distinguish it from look-alike species.  Check out our Rusty Blackbird Identification page, which provides photos, links, and a Rusty Blackbird Identification Guide that will help you to accurately identify Rusties.   Then, search for Rusty Blackbirds between 1 March and 15 June- you will improve your chances of finding a Rusty if you search during your state/province’s target dates.  We encourage you to focus on potential Rusty Blackbird habitat.

In 2015, we’re also challenging birders to revisit certain Areas of Interest, locations where large flocks of Rusties were reported in 2014. Visit these areas as often as you like, and please report both when you do and do not observe Rusties. Or, simply go birding at your regular haunts and report your observations under the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz protocol in eBird.

We can use any information you collect on your birding trips. At a minimum, we need to know where you searched for Rusties and how many you found. If possible, we encourage you to report additional data, such as the type of habitat in which you found Rusties and their behavior.

To help guide your data collection efforts, we offer an Rusty Blackbird Blitz datasheet, and for more detailed instructions on collecting and reporting data, please see our Spring Migration Blitz Optional Protocol.

Since Rusty Blackbird migration and habitat use may vary with environmental variables such as temperature and precipitation, state and provincial coordinators may be able to provide helpful suggestions about when and where to search for Rusty Blackbirds.  Contact your local coordinator if you’d like additional search guidance.

Data Submission Instructions

All of the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz data will be entered through eBird under a special “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz” protocol.  You can find this protocol on the second data entry page under “Observation Type- Other”. Note that this option will only be available during the Blitz dates. Please enter your observations under the “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz” protocol when:

1) You searched for and found Rusty Blackbirds between 1 March and 15 June.

2) You searched for but did not find Rusty Blackbirds between 1 March and 15 June; information about where you did and did not find these birds is critical to understand consistency in habitat use and migratory timing.

3) If you were birding in Rusty Blackbird habitat (flooded forests, edge of wetland, agricultural field, or other area with shallow water) and found Rusty Blackbirds between 1 March and 15 June, even if you were not specifically searching for them, you can enter your data under the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz protocol.  This indicates that you were aware of the Blitz and helps us evaluate Blitz outreach efforts. However, if you choose to submit these data under a different survey type, we can still use your information for the Blitz.

Our Spring Migration Blitz Optional Protocol offers step-by-step guidance for data entry. Also, if you are not familiar with eBird data entry, consider watching this video tutorial that guides you through signing in, selecting a location, choosing your survey type, and entering your data. If you are an experienced eBird user but want to learn more about when and how to report your observations to the Blitz, please watch our Blitz Data Entry- Advanced video.