Rusty Blackbird Conservation


With a name representing its rusty-tipped winter plumes as well as its squeaky-hinge call, Rusty Blackbird is a great conservation enigma.

Flying largely under the radar until the 1990s, the dramatic and mysterious declines affecting Rusty Blackbirds throughout their range galvanized scientists and birders to learn more. In partnership with the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group, VCE strives to address key questions about Rusty Blackbird breeding and migration requirements. Our projects provide key data to guide Rusty conservation, and they serve to spread the word about the plight of this once-overlooked and now vulnerable bird.

Male Rusty Blackbird during breeding season. / © Keith Williams

Male Rusty Blackbird during breeding season. / © Keith Williams



To learn more about Rusty Blackbird migration, VCE, in cooperation with the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group and eBird, is coordinating a Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz. Each spring from 2014 – 2016, throughout North America experienced birders will be asked to seek out and report Rusty Blackbirds in their area. Visit the IRBWG Spring Migration Blitz web site to learn more >>


In 2001-2002 and 2006-2007, VCE partners at the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife conducted Rusty Blackbird surveys throughout Maine and in Northern Vermont to evaluate the southernmost areas of the species’ current range and begin to explore environmental features associated with Rusty Blackbird habitat use.  Building on these early studies, VCE surveyed 280 wetland locations in ME and VT during the 2012 breeding season. We wanted to better understand the habitat characteristics associated with Rusty Blackbirds and determine if the same areas where still used nearly a decade later. Learn more >>