Saturday, November 14, 2015

Rusty Blackbird

A week ago, on 6 November, Erika and I scanned a flock of Red-winged Blackbirds at the River Bend Nature Center here in Rice County, Minnesota. We estimated the flock contained 400 blackbirds. To our surprise, among the Red-wings were at least six Rusty Blackbirds and one Common Grackle. The bird in this photo is a female Rusty Blackbird.

Over the past 40 years, Rusty Blackbird populations declined by 85 to 95 percent. Ornithologists are at a loss to explain this drop. Hypotheses include loss of wetlands in their wintering grounds, environmental contaminants and habitat loss in breeding areas, and collateral loss during blackbird control programs aimed at other species (Avery 2013).

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