MI naturalists recruit volunteers to track disappearing rusty blackbird

Apr 21, 2015

The rusty blackbird population has declined dramatically over the last few decades.
Credit Flickr - Don Faulkner

All over North America, bird watchers are looking to spot an elusive species. The rusty blackbird has experienced huge population declines, and scientists aren’t quite sure why. Current State’s Kevin Lavery goes on a “Rusty Blackbird Blitz” in northern Clinton County.

Many migratory birds that spend their winters in southern climates are returning home to their northern breeding grounds.  Our abundance of waterways makes Michigan an attractive rest stop for many birds that live in Canada and Alaska.

Scientists are watching one particular bird with great interest.  In the last 40 years, the rusty blackbird has experienced an enormous population decline, on the magnitude of 95 percent or more.  All across North America, bird watchers are taking part in an annual tradition called the “Rusty Blackbird Blitz,” in an effort to document this elusive species.

Current State’s Kevin Lavery went on a mini-expedition to find some “rusties.”