Thursday, December 9, 2010

Rusty Blackbird Blitz! January 29 to February 13, 2011!

In 2009 and 2010, birders scoured the countryside for wintering Rusty Blackbirds to increase understanding of their distribution and find important local concentrations (hotspots). Much was learned from the last two year’s efforts. Already, the information gained is being used to implement research and conservation efforts! However, there is still more to learn. The Rusty Blackbird Hotspot Blitz will be repeated for the last time in 2011 to locate more hotspots and determine how stable known hotspots are from year to year. Don’t miss your chance to contribute to this monumental survey effort for this declining species! Mark your calendar now! The Blitz will occur January 29th – February 13th, 2011, throughout the Rusty Blackbird winter range in over 20 midwestern and southeastern states. Participants will simply be asked to visit locations where they have previously sighted or would expect to encounter Rusty Blackbirds and submit their observations via e-Bird.

The Rusty Blackbird has been steeply declining with estimates of an 85-99% population drop over the past 40 years. The cause for this alarming decline is not known and the increasingly sparse and patchy winter distribution of the Rusty Blackbird makes it challenging to learn more about distribution, abundance, and ecology as a basis for conservation efforts. Collaborating with the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's and National Audubon Society’s e-Bird project, the Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group (RBTWG) needs your help to find local, but predictable wintering concentrations of Rusty Blackbirds by participating in the 2011 Rusty Blackbird Hotspot Blitz.

Results from the past year’s Blitzes, instructions and information on identification, habitat preferences, etc., are available on the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center's Rusty Blackbird Blitz website:

Information and instructions will also be available soon on Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology's e-Bird site:

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