Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tell Customers To Report Rusty Blackbirds Until February 15, 2010

Ithaca, NY--Volunteers are needed for the second annual Rusty Blackbird Blitz taking place January 30 through February 15. Participants report sightings via the eBird program led by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. The blitz is coordinated by the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group at the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center along with the Cornell Lab and Audubon.

The population of North American Rusty Blackbirds has plummeted an estimated 85 to 99 percent over the past 40 years. Although the exact cause for this decline is not clear, loss of habitat is one likely reason. Data gathered during the blitz will be used to create a map of wintering Rusty Blackbird "hot spots" and will help focus research, monitoring, and conservation efforts.

"We're looking for date, location, the time you began each survey, how long you were birding, and how far you traveled," said eBird co-leader Brian Sullivan. "It's important to submit your observations even if you don't see any Rusty Blackbirds. Negative data are incredibly valuable and still tell us a lot."

The focus of the blitz is on states that are known to be part of the Rusty Blackbird's winter range: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas (east), Virginia, and West Virginia.

Unlike other species of blackbirds, the Rusty Blackbird inhabits boreal wetlands of the far north during the breeding season and spends its winters in bottomland wooded-wetlands, primarily in American midwestern and southeastern states. Despite its drastic decline, there is no monitoring program specially for these birds.

Two other species are more common and are sometimes mistaken for the rusty. The Common Grackle is larger with a long tail and larger bill. The female Red-winged Blackbird also resembles the rusty but can be distinguished by bold streaking on its underparts, whereas the rusty has plain underparts without streaks.

For more information on identifying Rusty Blackbirds and where they might be found, visit the eBird website and the International Rusty Blackbird Technical Working Group site. Then join the Rusty Blackbird Blitz January 30 to February 15!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Perky Pet Gets Into Twitter

Perky Pet is joining other retailers on Twitter and Facebook joining several other wild bird companies including Duncraft, WildBird Magazine, Bird Watchers Digest, Eagle Optics and Birdorable. Are you on Twitter? Follow us and we'll add you to either our Wild Bird Vendor List or our Wild Bird Retailer List!