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Rusty Blackbird

Euphagus carolinus

Please note: Seventy percent of the rusty blackbird’s breeding range is located in Canada. There has been a decline of approximately 10% of the population over the past 40 years.

COSEWIC Status: Special Concern

COSSARO Status: Not at risk

Credit: Ted Krug

Description

  • 23 cm in size, this bird is mostly black outside of breeding season. The upper body feathers have rust coloured edges.
  • Yellow eyes and the bill is shorter than head.
  • Long narrow wings.
  • Adult males’ feathers have blue-green sheen while the similarly sized females have more slate coloured sheen.

Food

  • Prefers a mixture of forest and wetland habitat, typical of the boreal forest.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Lives to 9 years of age.
  • Short distance migrant, it winters in the US Midwest and the east coast, and returns late April.
  • Feeds on insects and seeds, e.g. grasshoppers, pine seeds, but will eat other birds in times of scarce food.
  • Build bulky nests of twigs in conifers or shrubs within 2 m of the ground, usually in beaver ponds or meadows.
  • Average clutch is 4 eggs.
  • Monogamous, they live in loose colonies during the breeding season.

Threats

  • Loss of habitat particularly in wintering grounds.

Conservation Actions

Range Map