The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz 2014 is coming and we need your help! Please spread the word to Vermont’s birding community and citizen scientists.
One of Vermont’s rare and iconic birds, the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus), is also one of the most rapidly declining bird species in North America. Although scientists have made huge strides in understanding Rusty Blackbirds on their breeding and wintering grounds, 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, is coordinating a Spring Migration Blitz for 2014. This Blitz will challenge 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. Dr. Judith Scarl of the Vermont Center for Ecostudies is coordinating this international effort.
Here in Vermont, Rusty Blackbirds are rare breeders, but the Green Mountain State may provide important migration habitat for “Rusties” headed to breeding grounds in far northern New England and eastern Canada. A very early migrant, Rusty Blackbirds move northward through Vermont during the period from mid-March until the end of April.
The goals of the Spring Migration Blitz are to:
1. Determine important migratory stopover sites (and characteristics of those sites) for Rusty Blackbirds traveling back to their breeding grounds;
2. Assess the consistency of numbers at different stopover locations and the consistency of timing of stopover occurrence; this will be achieved by repeating the Blitz for three consecutive years;
3. Leverage the Blitz process and communications to strengthen relationships with state, federal and private conservation organizations and personnel. This will include collecting data to inform State Wildlife Action Plans, Joint Venture implementation strategies, and other conservation efforts with the ultimate goal of promoting Rusty Blackbird conservation;
4. Use the Blitz to better engage the birding community and create increased awareness and engagement regarding Rusty Blackbirds and their conservation.
We need your help to support these objectives. Field observation and data collection during the migration window is essential. Join the effort to learn more about Rusty Blackbirds. You can gather and enter your observations and data into eBird during the migration window. We need your help to support these objectives. Field observation and data collection during the migration window is essential. Join the effort to learn more about Rusty Blackbirds. You can gather and enter your observations and data into eBird during the migration window.