[CT Birds] Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz 2014

James Restivo james.restivo at gmail.com
Mon Jan 6 14:58:44 EST 2014


As we turn the page on 2013 and look forward to a new year, I wanted to let
everyone know of a citizen science project in which everyone can
participate: The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz!

What, James? It's the middle of winter, and we're already talking about
Spring? You bet!

*Why?*  Over the past half-century, the historically abundant Rusty
Blackbird has endured one of the steepest population declines ever
documented among North American landbirds. Within the last 15 years,
scientists have learned more about this bird’s breeding and wintering
ecology, and this knowledge allows us to target conservation initiatives
during these phases of this bird’s annual cycle.  However, as with many
migratory species, we know very little about Rusty Blackbird ecology,
distribution, and habitat use during migration. Are there hot spots where
many individuals congregate?  Are there stopover areas that are used
predictably each year, and are these locations protected? The Rusty
Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz will address these and other questions to
help focus future research and conservation of one of North America’s most
vulnerable blackbirds. We’re recruiting an army of birders to participate
in this effort to help conserve this fascinating songbird.  Will you accept
our birding challenge?

*Who?*  The International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, eBird, and the
Vermont Center for Ecostudies are partnering with local organizations to
recruit volunteer observers from across the southeastern U.S., East Coast,
Midwest, Alaska, and Canada.

*What? *Each participating state, province, and territory will have a 3-8
week target window during which birders will search for Rusty Blackbirds.
Within this window, birders may explore favored birding haunts or newly
identified areas that they suspect may harbor Rusty Blackbirds. We’ll
provide some guidance on potential habitats to explore, but birders should
feel free to get creative – and ambitious! – with their searching.

*When?*  Spring 2014 kicks off the first year of this three-year Spring
Migration Blitz; the Blitz window will span early March through mid-June,
with more specific timeframes identified for each state or province to
account for the northward migratory progression.  *Target dates for
Connecticut are from mid-March through the end of April.*

*Where?  *Get ready for a continent-wide event!  The Spring Blitz will span
the Rusty Blackbird’s entire spring migration range, from the wintering
grounds in the southeastern United States, up the East Coast and through
the Midwest to Canada and Alaska.

*How do I get involved?*  Easy!  If you’d like to contribute data to the
Spring Migration Blitz effort, bird as you normally do, focusing on
potential Rusty Blackbird habitat during the Blitz time frame established
for your region.  You can seek out the best-known places for Rusty
sightings or explore uncharted territory.  Make sure to report ALL of your
observations to eBird – we want to know both where you saw these birds and
where you didn’t. Negative data is just as important as positive
data.  Check out the newly revamped website of the International Rusty
Blackbird Working Group (http://rustyblackbird.org/outreach/migration-blitz/)
for information about identification, vocalizations, habitat preferences,
and types of data to collect to support this initiative. Also, check with
your Connecticut co-coordinators James Restivo (me),
james.restivo at gmail.comand Greg Hanisek,
ctgregh at yahoo.com for additional ways you can help with the Blitz efforts
in your region, or contact Spring Migration Blitz Coordinator Judith Scarl (
jscarl at vtecostudies.org) to get involved in the broader Blitz initiative!

Like us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/rustyblackbirdspringblitz) to
follow up-to-the minute information about our Blitz.

I know most of us are still busy looking at Snowy Owls, so I will send out
a few reminder emails as the timeframe for Connecticut gets closer.

Good birding!

James Restivo
Medford, MA (formerly Groton, CT)

More information about the CTBirds mailing list