The Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz is off and running. Based on VT eBird data from March it looks like a "normal" migration year. Last year there were no Rusty Blackbirds reported to VT eBird in March. This year 76 Rusties were reported in March on 40 checklists. Most checklists reported 1-3 birds, but a few flocks of 5-9 Rusties were reported, as well. The bulk of the northeastern Rusty Blackbirds are located just south of Vermont in New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
Typically, April is the month in which the major push of Rusties through Vermont takes place. I will be leading a field trip to the South Hero Marsh Trail on Saturday, April 9 to look for Rusty Blackbirds. Ken Copenhaver will be leading his monthly walk at the Missisquoi NWR on April 16. The Missisquoi NWR is the highest priority "hotspot" for Rusty Blackbirds in Vermont. I encourage all Vermont birders to visit Rusty habitat, attempt to find them, and report your observations-positive or negative-to VT eBird using the optional Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz protocol.
I have reposted a short essay about Rusty Blackbirds and the Blitz on the GMAS website, which includes a link to the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group website and a Rusty Blackbird Fact Sheet in PDF form. This two page fact sheet can be observed, downloaded, or printed as you wish. The link to the GMAS website is:
Thanks to everyone who has contributed Rusty Blackbird sightings to VT eBird so far. In April let's get out there and find those birds. Every Rusty Blackbird counts.