Published on April 13, 2020

Birding for the Rusty

Rusty Blackbird at Post Farm Marsh in Lenox
Rusty Blackbird in Lenox

If spring has yet to shake the cobwebs off your binoculars and get you out birding, then hopefully some newfound time and thoughts of sunlight will get add some encouragement. It always takes a day or two to pick-up on some of the unusual songs and calls of migrating birds in spring.

The aptly-named Rusty Blackbird is one of the less common birds that can be seen and heard in Berkshire County, and is often difficult to detect.

The "Rusty" is smaller than a Common Grackle, but a little bigger than a Red-winged Blackbird. Their call and song are both subtly different from the Red-winged Blackbird and Common Grackle.

Visually, they require an extra minute to find the yellow iris, thin (but not too thin) beak, and—if you're lucky—beautiful rusty shading on the females.

Sightings are Key to Conservation

Searching for Rusty Blackbirds is not only an exciting challenge for spring birding—it's also important for conservation. The species has experienced a notable population decline of almost 90% since the middle of the 20th century.

That means it's even more important for everyone to keep an eye out for these unique birds. The more you go searching for Rusties and report your sightings on platforms like eBird, the better their populations and migratory patterns are understood.

Rusty Blackbirds have even been reported breeding the Berkshires, but are difficult to confirm. The end of March and the beginning of April have been great for finding this species. One of the most reliable locations in the Berkshires is Post Farm Marsh in Lenox, which is where the photo and sound recordings shared in this article were made.