This year’s Rusty Blackbird Blitz is only five days away! The 2011 Blitz is scheduled for January 29 to February 13. For those 17 days scientists, birders, and other volunteers will look for Rusty Blackbirds in their potential habitats, focusing primarily on all of the states to our south. However, Connecticut holds a decent number of Rusty Blackbirds in winter, even in harsh ones like this year. Recent observations have shown they are still present, sometimes in sizable groups, in areas ranging from Westport to Woodbridge and Hamden to Sterling and Litchfield. I am sure there are more out there, whether they be in wooded wetlands near neighborhoods like mine, in other preserves and sanctuaries, or among larger blackbird groups. We know of several locations they typically winter in, but we need to find more locations and more birds during that time period!
If everyone reading this who lives in Connecticut or any state with Rusty Blackbirds could be please so kind as to keep an eye out for them and log the results in eBird (http://ebird.org) that would be fantastic. You will be doing a great service to conservation and a species that is plummeting in number before our eyes. We would love to have as many details as possible - exact locations, the sex of the birds, what they were doing, what they foraged for, the habitat they were found in, and so forth. More information on all of this can be found on the Rusty Blackbird overview page on the Smithsonian's Migratory Bird Center website, I site I mentioned yesterday as it is home to the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/scbi/migratorybirds/research/rusty_blackbird/
If you have any questions about Rusty Blackbirds, the blitz, eBird, or would rather directly send me your Rusty Blackbird sightings during that time (or any time you see a Rusty Blackbird), please feel free to do so. Thank you so much in advance - I know we can find some "new" Rusty Blackbirds and all of you will provide us with some great information! While we are particularly interested in finding large groups of them, even just one Rusty Blackbird visiting your yard for a day in that period is very important (and so is their absence where they would be typically found). So, once again, please do not hesitate to email me about any of this.
Photo © Scott Kruitbosch