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Injured Rusty Blackbird

Posted on Oct 24, 2016

I am a huge fan of the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus), something you may have learned by reading my posts over the last few years here at RTPI. Beyond fandom I am also a member of the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group and help to coordinate spring migration blitzes to record the species with birders and the public to learn more about vital aspects of their biology in an attempt to save one of the fastest declining birds on the continent. October is a great time to spot them heading south for the winter in wooded wetlands, marshes, ponds and agricultural areas. They may be mixed in with other species like the Common Grackle, Red-winged Blackbird and Brown-headed Cowbird or in small flocks of their own. This bird was surprisingly solo for an unfortunate reason – do you notice anything in the photo?


This male Rusty has no tail between those wings, and it is also standing on only its right leg. The bird flew from post to post and looked fine doing so, resting in the sun, but it clearly has some health issues with the left leg and/or foot. Perhaps it survived a raptor attack. Whatever the cause of its troubles may be the poor bird must have a tough time feeding, and will probably need to (hopefully) heal before making any more major movements. There was nothing to be done in terms of capturing it or potentially rehabbing it as it stayed far away from anyone’s reach. This was as close as I could get and the photo was taken at 500mm. If you see any Rusty Blackbirds anywhere at any time please enter them into eBird! We need all the data and information on them we can get to help save the species.

Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator