The Rusty Blackbird Migration Blitz in New Brunswick

Please Join Me in Spotting Rusties!

I have been fascinated with Rusty Blackbirds for a long time, I think since I started birding over twenty years ago. Last year, though, was the first time that a Rusty came to my feeder in Caissie Cape, NB, and I was able to take photos of this mysterious bird.

The word is out this year that interest in Rusties and counting them wherever you may find them is of paramount importance, given that there is a drastic decline in numbers in this particular species.

Please help us with the Rusty Blackbird Migration Blitz as birders from the US states and the Canadian provinces combine forces to  “blitz” out the records for this species. We need your reports and any details you can gather when you submit your sightings on eBird, which is a global effort online to keep track of all birds, not just Rusties. See below for a list of other birds of interest.

Dr. Judith Scarl, Vermont Center for Ecostudies, serves as the International Coordinator of the Spring Migration Blitz.

“Rusty Blackbird migration remains a big mystery,” said Scarl. “Without an understanding of stopover locations, migratory timing, or migratory hotspots, we cannot even begin to design conservation strategies to protect this species during one of the critical periods in its annual cycle.”

The premise of the Blitz is simple: You can help scientists gather much-needed data during the Rusty Blackbird’s migration period by birding during the target weeks for your state and submitting your findings to eBird, even if you don’t see a Rusty. It’s just as important to better understand where Rusty Blackbirds occur as it is to know the locations where they have not been found.   

For more information go to:

Our Provincial Participation

The month of April is fast approaching and I can't wait, because that's the target month for New Brunswick, Canada, for our migration blitz. I have volunteered to be the contact for the province so feel free to write and ask questions or help with submitting, etc. I’ll be happy to help.

Collecting data is easy and will greatly help this very worthy cause. Go out and count the birds you see, paying special attention for black/brown birds. If you are not sure how to identify a Rusty Blackbird or its lookalikes, the Cowbird, Grackle or Brewer’s Blackbird, then hop on over to the website and download the helpful guides to help with identification.

When you are ready to record your observations, go to

and on the first page after Submit Observations, when you choose your “Observation Type,” click on “Other” and scroll down for the “Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz” option and read the instructions.

The blitz is a two-fold effort to find out as much as we can about where Rusties ARE seen and where they are NOT seen during the migration. That’s why it’s important to use, if you can, the Rusty Blackbird Blitz 2014 Datasheet when gathering and submitting your observations online. The Datasheet provides space also for your records of the Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Brewer’s Blackbird, Common Grackle and European Starling. All these birds are usually found together, and with the Rusty Blackbird, so we want to know their numbers as well.

Target Dates for New Brunswick, remember, is the whole month of April this year, so join me in helping gather valuable information on this interesting species.

Help us Record the Rusties! This is my contact information:

Raymonde Savoie

For my other social media venues, please go to:

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Tags: Blackbird, Blitz, Rusty, bird, migration, rare


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Comment by Raymonde Savoie on May 3, 2015 at 11:09am

Thanks for that, Jeffrey. I myself, after two years of not seeing any, spotted a flock of 15 in the Fairview Knoll Park just this past week. I am thrilled that I can add it to my FOY list. Thanks for the heads-up and keep the notices coming!

Comment by jeffrey joel hanson on April 30, 2015 at 2:52pm

There was some behind the super store in fredericton north side 

Comment by Anne Marsch on April 8, 2014 at 9:27am

Thanks Raymonde. I did want to make sure it was counted as having wintered. 

Comment by Raymonde Savoie on April 8, 2014 at 8:54am

Hi Anne,

When reporting on eBird, it should be reported each day that it was sighted. That way, the system will "know" that it's not a migrating bird, but it will be counted in the numbers, and that's important. This goes for every bird in your yard, of course. The Rusty reporting protocol is very specific, too, in order to see with which other birds the Rusties are travelling when they migrate. I know it's tedious, but it will help if you follow the protocol and report it for each sighting.

Even though it's not a migrating bird, your information will show that some Rusties do not migrate, or arrive early, etc. so your data is very important information nonetheless. If you could report it as you've seen it, that would be wonderful. And thank you!

Comment by Anne Marsch on April 8, 2014 at 8:29am

Hi Raymonde. The Rusty in my yard has been here since Dec. and is seen almost daily. This is not a migrating bird. Should I enter it once for each month to show this or what would you suggest?

Comment by Raymonde Savoie on April 8, 2014 at 7:50am

Thank you, Denis, Gilbert, and Nathan!

The more we count them, the better we can understand them.

I'm grateful for your help.


Comment by Joanne Savage on April 7, 2014 at 10:35pm

Congrats on yet another new species, Nathan!

Comment by N Staples on April 7, 2014 at 10:21pm

I saw one on Sunday just outside of Hartland. Another birder I know let me know that there were two there so I went and did see one (did see them over on PEI before, but first time for NB) I already submitted a checklist on ebird, but didn't use the Rusty Blackbird Blitz option. Should I delete the first checklist and submit it again Raymonde?

Comment by Gilbert Bouchard on April 7, 2014 at 7:21pm

Just saw a pair in my backyard. Male and discret female together. My eBird report is done.


Comment by Denis A. Doucet on March 22, 2014 at 8:54am

I will certainly also be on the lookout. They are one of my favourite birds to look for in April and this year  will be looking harder for them.

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