rubl2_AK_shawThe International Rusty Blackbird Working Group (IRBWG) was founded in 2005 to foster communications among people seeking to understand and reverse the decline of the Rusty Blackbird. The group strives to develop cross-seasonal and comprehensive research projects and is open to all who have a serious interest in participating in Rusty Blackbird research and conservation.

The group focuses primarily on gathering and collecting information critical to developing on-the-ground conservation strategies and management programs to overturn the rapid decline of this species.

Research Needs

Research and monitoring projects are designed to obtain critically needed information in these areas:

  1. basic ecology and natural history
  2. identification of possible causes for decline
  3. development of effective survey techniques and monitoring protocols
  4. habitat needs and manipulations that benefit the species

To address these areas we have developed a series of high priority research activities.

Ongoing Research:

These research objectives have been recently explored or are in the process of being studied:

  • intensive studies of breeding and winter population biology and trophic ecology using marked and radio-tagged birds.
  • identify important migratory stop-over habitat areas.
  • establish the connectivity of breeding and wintering populations through feather isotope analysis.
  • assess the impact of acidification and methylmercury contamination.
  • use existing data sets to relate local changes in abundance to climate and land use to develop hypotheses for what is causing the species’ decline.
  • develop survey techniques that can be used in breeding and winter atlas projects.

Long-term Goals:

  • synthesize demographic data gathered at multiple breeding and winter sites along with connectivity information to begin to build population models.
  • utilize geolocator technologies to map migratory routes and link breeding populations to wintering grounds.
  • develop habitat management recommendations for dissemination to wildlife and land management agencies for the recovery of Rusty Blackbird populations.