Welcome to Year 3 of the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz!

February 29, 2016
Rachelle Roake
Comments Off on Welcome to Year 3 of the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz!

Rusty Blackbird by Craig Fritz

Michigan Audubon is blitzing for blackbirds as part of the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz, coordinated by the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group. This is the third and final year for “the Blitz,” so we really hope that birders will come out and support this important citizen science effort. Much like last year, Michigan Audubon will be offering fantastic prizes including a brand new pair of Atlas Optics Black Eagle 8×42 binoculars, courtesy of Eagle Optics (scroll down for details). This post includes basic details about the Blitz, but flit on over to www.rustyblackbird.org for a more in-depth look.

What is “the Blitz”?

The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz is an international effort to understand migration stopover locations and routes for Rusty Blackbirds. The Blitz relies on YOU, birders, to contribute to this citizen science, data-gathering effort.

Why is the Blitz important?

Rusty Blackbirds are one of the most steeply declining landbirds in North America. These unique blackbirds have lost an estimated 85-95% of their population in 40 years. Migration is a stressful time for all species, including Rusties, so it is critical that we understand where and when they stop to refuel. The data gathered from the Blitz will lead to well-informed conservation actions to protect and enhance migratory stopover habitat for Rusties.

RBbB-01Who can participate?

Anyone! This is a citizen science effort, meaning we need everyone, everywhere to search for Rusties. Participants need to be able to confidently identify a Rusty Blackbird. Test your skills with this Rusty Blackbird Identification Guide.

How do I participate?

Step 1: Learn how to identify male and female Rusty Blackbirds (here).

Step 2: Search for Rusty Blackbirds between 1 March and 7 May in appropriate habitat (flooded fields, agricultural fields, wetland edge, forests with shallow water).

Step 3: Count the number of Rusty Blackbirds you saw. Count other species, too (optional).

Step 4: Enter your data on eBird regardless of whether you saw Rusty Blackbirds or not. It may seem strange, but it is equally important to know areas where Rusty Blackbirds are not during migration. This is especially important if the habitat appears to be “good” habitat for Rusties.

Step 5: If you want to be entered into Michigan Audubon’s contest to win prizes (see below), share your eBird checklist with “MAmonitoring.”

Where do I enter my observations?

Data from the Blitz is entered through eBird, an online database for bird observations. When birding for Rusties, please use the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz Protocol, listed under “Observation Type: Other.” For a walk through of eBird data entry, check out the Blitz Protocol.

Rusty Blackbird by Seabamirum

Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz Contest

It’s easy to enter our contest and you could win big! Please fill out the form below to register. We will contact you to send reminders about the Blitz and let you know if you’ve won a prize at the end of the contest. After you’ve signed up, go birding for Rusties, enter your data via eBird under the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz Observation Type, and share your eBird checklists with “MAmonitoring.” That’s it! The contest runs from March 1st to May 7th. We will summarize all the shared checklists at the end of the contest and contact you if you’re a winner. The winners will be announced at the social evening during the Tawas Point Birding Festival on Friday, May 20. Winners do not need to attend to win, but we’d love to congratulate you in person.

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Michigan Audubon is offering fabulous prizes to those who participate in the Blitz. The birder who submits the most eBird checklists under the Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz observation type will receive a brand new pair of Atlas Optics Black Eagle 8×42 binoculars, courtesy of Eagle Optics. A Rusty Blackbird Sculpture will be awarded to the birder who reports the greatest number of Rusty Blackbirds observed under the Blitz observation type on eBird. Sign up for our contest here. If you have any questions, please email: RRoake@michiganaudubon.org

Thank you for Blitzing for Rusties!


Special thanks to our sponsor, Eagle Optics!

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Sign up for the Blitz Contest Below