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Rusty Blackbirds - A Rusty Recovery

Calling all citizen scientists! The "Rusties" need you!

It’s basic black with an inelegant voice. It nests in places we rarely visit. And in relative obscurity, the Rusty Blackbird has suffered one of the most dramatic population declines ever recorded among our songbirds. The International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, a coalition of biologists and conservationists, is recruiting birdwatchers to track them during the "Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz." It’s happening right now! If you’d like to help the “Rusties” recover, check out Related Resources below. 

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Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Rusty Blackbirds - A Rusty Recovery

By Bryan Pfeiffer

This is BirdNote.

[Calls and song of a Rusty Blackbird]

It’s basic black with an inelegant voice. It nests in places we rarely visit. And in relative obscurity, the Rusty Blackbird has suffered one of the most dramatic population declines ever recorded among our songbirds.

[Calls and song of a Rusty Blackbird]

“Rusties” breed in bogs, swamps, and other wetlands across Canada and just barely into the northeastern US. [general wetland ambient, dawn chorus] We mostly encounter them northbound during March and April – and southbound in fall. But we’re seeing far fewer. During half a century, as Bald Eagles and Peregrine Falcons recovered, Rusty Blackbird numbers plunged by an estimated 90 percent.

[Calls of Rusty Blackbirds]

Loss of swamps in the southeastern US, where they winter, probably explains part of the decline. Other causes might include mercury poisoning and the warming and drying of wetland breeding sites. 

It’s also likely that we overlooked their decline. Blackbirds are generally abundant and resilient. They don’t get the same attention we devote to gutsy falcons or vibrant warblers.

[Calls of a flock of Rusty Blackbirds]

But the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, a coalition of biologists and conservationists, is recruiting birdwatchers to track these songbirds during the "Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz." It’s happening right now! If you’d like to help the “Rusties” recover, begin at birdnote.org. 

[Calls of a Rusty Blackbird]

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. First two features of calls of Rusty Blackbirds [12456] recorded by P.P. Kellogg; flock of Rusty Blackbirds [170757] by D. McCartt; and calls of Rusty Blackbirds [136172] by M. Medler. Dawn chorus at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge [uned] recorded by G.F. Budney;

Mild wetland ambient drawn from [12013] recorded by R.W. Simmers in Maine.

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

Producer: John Kessler

Executive Producer: Chris Peterson

© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org          April 2014  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#   RUBL-01-2014-04-09 (subject to change) RUBL-01

RustyBlackbird.org.  http://rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz/states-and-dates/

http://blog.allaboutbirds.org/2014/03/01/help-scientists-find-out-whats-...

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