For release:
January 26, 2011  

Join the Third Annual Rusty Blackbird Blitz
Volunteers needed to map this rapidly declining species

Ithaca, NY--Where are the Rusty Blackbirds? The North American population of this species has plunged an estimated 85 to 99 percent over the past 40 years. To help pinpoint where the remaining birds can be found, volunteers are needed for the third annual Rusty Blackbird Blitz taking place January 29 through February 13. This is when Rusty Blackbirds become easier to find and the population is relatively sedentary.
Data gathered during the blitz will be used to create a map of wintering Rusty Blackbird "hot spots" and will help focus research, monitoring, and conservation efforts. Participants report sightings via the eBird program led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The blitz is coordinated by the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center along with the Cornell Lab and Audubon.  

"Blackbirds have been in the news a lot lately because of the 5,000 birds that died in Arkansas after being frightened from their roost by nighttime fireworks," says eBird leader Brian Sullivan. "But the sad truth is that birds of all species are dying by the hundreds of thousands every day. Some die from collisions with man-made structures, and many species simply start fading away because the habitat they need has been lost to development. The Rusty Blackbird is a prime example."

States known to be part of the Rusty Blackbird's 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.
"Blitzers" will report the number of birds present at each location they visit, along with very basic habitat information. Rusty Blackbirds have pale "staring" eyes. In late January and early February, males will appear mostly black and females will have rusty edges on their wings and body. The Rusty Blackbird spends its winters in bottomland wooded-wetlands, primarily in American midwestern and southeastern states. 

For more information on identifying Rusty Blackbirds and where they might be found, visit the eBird website and the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group site.

Join the Rusty Blackbird Blitz
January 29 to February 13!



Pat Leonard, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, (607) 254-2137,


The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a membership institution dedicated to interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab’s web site at

Cornell Lab of Ornithology
159 Sapsucker Woods Rd, Ithaca NY 14850
Call toll-free (800) 843-BIRD (2473)

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