Rusty Blackbird

Euphagus carolinus
Rusty Blackbird specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A small (9 inches) blackbird, the male Rusty Blackbird in breeding plumage is most easily identified by its small size, black body with greenish gloss, and pale eye. Breeding females are similar but duller, with a slate-gray body. Winter males are rusty brown with a pale eye-stripes and grayish-brown wings, while winter females are similar to winter males but are paler brown. The Rusty Blackbird breeds primarily in Alaska and central Canada. Extremely small numbers breed south of the border in the United States, primarily in Minnesota, Michigan, upstate New York, and northern New England. In winter, this species may be found in the eastern U.S. from Massachusetts to central Florida and west to Nebraska. In summer, Rusty Blackbirds breed in bogs and wet evergreen forests. In winter, this species may be found in swamps and wet southern forests. Rusty Blackbirds primarily eat insects in summer, switching to seeds and pine nuts in winter. Due to the relative inaccessibility of this species’ breeding grounds, most birdwatchers never see the Rusty Blackbird during the summer. In winter, when Rusty Blackbirds are more visible, they may be seen foraging for food in large flocks over swamps and wet woodland. This species is primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Common migrant, October to April in brushy swamp areas and fields borders; occasional in winter. The female is dark grayish, the male black; both can be told from other blackbirds by the light eye.

Specimen Information

This may be the record for the bird on the right.
Date:  11/9/1911
Collected By:  Conrad Zeller
Locality:  District of Columbia
Sex:  Male ?
Catalog ID:  233475

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC11853 Euphagus carolinus (Rusty Blackbird)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17013 Euphagus carolinus (Rusty Blackbird)