Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Only 5 Days Left!!!

To help further wintering range and populations knowledge of Rusty Blackbirds by taking part in the First Annual Rusty Blackbird Blitz.

If you live in the south east (including the Gulf States) pretty much south of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and you encounter Rusty Blackbirds during your birding foray, your sightings can be logged into eBird under the heading "Rusty Blackbird Blitz".

February 7-15, 2009 marks the dates for the Rusty Blackbird Blitz, a co-op effort by Cornell Lab's eBird and The Rusty Blackbird Working Group, in effort to try and garner a better understanding on this species major wintering areas and overall wintering population size. As many many know, Rusties have shown an 85%+ decline in population size (according to Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Count data) over the last 40 years. It's not just the Red Knot and Semi-palmated Sandpiper folks!!

If you happen to be birding in Cape May there a numerous locations that can be good for Rusty Blackbirds. In fact, pretty much any wet woods may do the trick but you might try the wet woods at Higbee Beach WMA or the back of Hidden Valley. Villas WMA in the past few years has proved to be an excellent location to look for this species with flocks numbers upwards of 160+ at times. You can often find Rusties almost anywhere at Villas but the east-southeast portions prove to be the best. Not coincidentally this boarders some wet woods!

That being said though, we birded the Villas WMA on both Sunday and Monday and only came up with small number of these sought after blackbirds. There were hundreds of grackles and lesser number of red-wings and cowbirds. Probably the surprise bird of the day on Monday was, a male White-winged Crossbill that we found low in a shrub apparently having come down for a drink from the pond. I spotted the bird at first and thought that it was very bright Purple Finch, that is until it turned and showed it's white wing bars. There were many birds moving to and from the pond and thus we lost the bird only having gotten a quick glimpse and hearing the bird call as is departed.

Also at Villas WMA was the continuing Canvasback (on Sunday, not there on Monday), drake Redhead, one Red-headed Woodpecker and hen Eurasian Wigeon. On Sunday the "white headed" Canada Goose was in the roosting goose flock on the pond but also not present on Monday. I have a few photos to share but unfortunately I left them on my home computer!!

So, whether you make a concerted effort to go out looking specifically for Rusty Blackbirds or just happen upon them in the days birding, think about contributing your sightings info for science. You can read more about the Rusty Blackbird Blitz using the links provided above.

Location: Villas WMA
Observation date: 2/9/09
Notes: 4833 steps = approx. 3.15 miles
Number of species: 47

Canada Goose 20
Eurasian Wigeon 1
American Wigeon 40
Mallard 20
Redhead 1
Ring-necked Duck 25
Ruddy Duck 1
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Turkey Vulture 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Ring-billed Gull 30
Herring Gull X
Great Black-backed Gull X
Rock Pigeon X
Mourning Dove 10
Red-headed Woodpecker 1
Red-bellied Woodpecker 18
Downy Woodpecker 4
Blue Jay 2
American Crow 10
Carolina Chickadee 20
Tufted Titmouse 35
White-breasted Nuthatch 6
Carolina Wren X
Eastern Bluebird 25
American Robin 125
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling X
Palm Warbler 1
Eastern Towhee 1
Chipping Sparrow 35
Field Sparrow 15
Savannah Sparrow 15
Song Sparrow 18
White-throated Sparrow X
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 20
Northern Cardinal 4
Red-winged Blackbird X
Rusty Blackbird 10
Common Grackle 250
Brown-headed Cowbird 50
Purple Finch X
House Finch X
White-winged Crossbill 1
American Goldfinch X
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

Location: Villas WMA
Observation date: 2/8/09
Notes: 3420 steps = approx. 2.23 miles
Number of species: 33

Canada Goose 175
Eurasian Wigeon 1
American Wigeon 35
Mallard 15
Canvasback 1
Redhead 1
Ring-necked Duck 25
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Cooper's Hawk 1
Merlin 1
Ring-billed Gull 45
Herring Gull 8
Mourning Dove X
Red-bellied Woodpecker 8
Downy Woodpecker 4
Blue Jay 3
American Crow X
Carolina Chickadee X
Tufted Titmouse 12
White-breasted Nuthatch 2
Eastern Bluebird 10
American Robin 30
Northern Mockingbird 1
European Starling X
Chipping Sparrow 20
Field Sparrow 25
Song Sparrow 15
Swamp Sparrow 1
Red-winged Blackbird X
Rusty Blackbird 5
Common Grackle 200
Brown-headed Cowbird 20
House Sparrow X

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2

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