Last year, birders throughout the country scoured the countryside for wintering rusty blackbirds to help us understand their distribution and find important local concentrations (hotspots).
We learned a lot - see the 2010 blitz results
But there is much more to learn. We want to blitz for several years to both locate more hotspots and determine how stable the already discovered hot spots are from year to year. Already, the information gained is being used to implement research and conservation efforts!
With your help the "Rusty Blackbird Third Times a Charm Blitz" will be bigger and better than Blitz One and Two.
January 29 - February 13, 2011. This is when rusties become easier to find (males sing!) and the population is relatively sedentary.
During a single 17-day period, volunteers will search for rusty blackbirds (particularly flocks or concentrations) in any potentially suitable locations or habitats. We will revisit areas of concentration in the future to determine if they are indeed rusty blackbird hotspots.
We focus on the following states known to comprise the rusty blackbird winter range: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (east), Virginia, and West Virginia.
Rusty blackbird populations have fallen steeply, with estimates of an 85-99% population drop over the past 40 years. Although no one knows the cause for this alarming decline, winter habitat loss and degradation are likely candidates. Rusties are getting scarce and patchy in their winter distribution, making it difficult to focus the research and management we need to save the species.
Collaborating with Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's and National Audubon Society's e-Bird project, we are enlisting the power of the birding public (you!) to help locate local, but predictable wintering concentrations of rusty blackbirds. We are mobilizing an all-out "blitz" to locate rusty blackbirds and create a map of wintering rusty blackbird hotspots that will help focus research, monitoring and conservation attention..
Birders from all of the rusties' winter range (see map above). And for out-of-range northerners: We will be developing opportunities for you to travel south and hit up critically under-covered states in the core of the rusties' winter range.
It's simple! Use whatever you like—your database of previous sightings, birding intuition, local legend, or local knowledge—to search the most likely places for wintering rusty blackbirds.
You can go wherever you like, whenever you like, and as often as you like anytime between January 29 - February 13, 2011. We are simply looking for the number of birds present at each location, along with very basic habitat information.
The Blitz is loosely organized through a steering committee and state team leaders. These valiant volunteers are there to drum up participation and assist with any questions. Also, they may be able to steer you to areas that need coverage.
|Alabama||Dwight Cooley, Eric Soehren|
|Georgia||Pierre Howard, Nathan Farnau|
|Maryland||Russ Greenberg, Greg Gough|
|New Jersey||Sharon Petzinger|
|North Carolina||Nathan Swick|
|South Carolina||Russ Greenberg|
|Texas (east)||John Arvin|
|West Virginia||Matt Orsie|
All you have to do is submit your observations (or lack thereof) via e-Bird. We will do the rest! (Failure to find rusties is important information as well).
Information and instructions will also be available on Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's e-Bird site: ebird.org
Sponsored by International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group, Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's and National Audubon Society's eBird