Fun Rusty Blackbird Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Feb 10, 2023 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 05, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary
Interesting facts about the Rusty Blackbird.

Rusty blackbirds (Euphagus carolinus), affectionately called rusties by twitchers, are North American birds belonging to the blackbird family. This species of bird can be found breeding in a boreal forest during spring.

They have a drastically declining population, and various studies are being conducted for their efficient conservation. Climate change, habitat loss, and poisoning of the blackbird flocks are currently considered as the primary reasons for the decline. They are migratory birds and feed on aquatic insects, seeds, and fruits according to the season.

They walk on wet grounds or wade in wet habitats while foraging. They have been known to prey on other birds on occasion.

Rusty blackbirds exhibit sexual dimorphism, and they molt after winter. Their rusty tipped feathers slowly turn glossy black or silver, depending on the gender, as the rusty shade fades in spring.

They could have earned the name rusty because of their rusty-colored-tipped feathers. Their nest is constructed low in boreal forests by the females alone. The fledglings leave the nest after about two weeks.

Check out the European goldfinch and verdins to learn about more fascinating animals.

Rusty Blackbird Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Rusty Blackbird?

Rusty blackbirds are North American birds. They are a type of songbird belonging to the family Icteridae.

What class of animal does a Rusty Blackbird belong to?

Rusty blackbirds belong to the class of Aves of the kingdom Animalia.

How many Rusty Blackbirds are there in the world?

According to the North American Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Bird Count, these birds are uncommon, and their population has an estimated decline of 85-95% over the past 50 years. An exact count of their population is not available as the estimates vary from 1-5 million.

Where does a Rusty Blackbird live?

Rusty blackbirds can be found in Canada, the USA, and sometimes in Mexico. During summer, these birds are found in river groves and wooded swamps. They prefer the boreal forest wetlands of northern United States and Canada during the breeding season. These migratory birds can be found near water sources, such as riverside forests during the winter season.

What is a Rusty Blackbird's habitat?

They are most suited to habitats with shallow water and wet leaf litter. This blackbird species can be found in different wetland habitats like marshes, swamps, etc.

Who do Rusty Blackbirds live with?

Rusty blackbirds are sometimes solitary birds. They may be seen in flocks of up to 1000 as well. They can be seen in scattered loose colonies or as isolated pairs in the boreal forest during the breeding season. They are also known to join other blackbird flocks in the wintering grounds to feed at times.

How long does a Rusty Blackbird live?

They have a lifespan of about eight years. The longest known lifespan is eight years and seven months for a rusty blackbird in Mississippi.

How do they reproduce?

Rusty blackbirds migrate to breeding grounds during the spring season. They prefer wetland mosaics for breeding. Mates are attracted through singing within the breeding range. The females build bulky, cup-shaped nests alone, using sticks and coarse grass.

The nest can be found at the height of 3.3-9.8 ft (1-3 m) on a small tree. Between three and six pale blue-green eggs are laid by the end of April. The eggs will have brown and gray markings.

The eggs are incubated by the females, and the males bring food. It takes about two weeks for the eggs to hatch. Both parents feed the nestlings. The birds fledge after about 11-14 days.

What is their conservation status?

According to the IUCN, these birds are listed as Vulnerable. Their population has been declining sharply over the past century owing to their habitat loss and climate change.

Rusty Blackbird Fun Facts

What do Rusty Blackbirds look like?

Rusty blackbird facts are all about their habitat, traits, and appearance.

*Please note that this is an image of a Common Blackbird, not a Rusty Blackbird specifically. If you have an image of a Rusty Blackbird, then please let us know at

Adult rusty blackbirds can be recognized by their pointed bills and pale yellow eyes. They will have a glossy black plumage with rusty feather edges as they migrate to the north during spring.

The females are more gray and rusty than black. In winter, the non-breeding adults have a brownish plumage, which is where they got the adjective 'rusty' in their name. These birds have puffy, bold eyebrows.

They are relatively thinner than the other birds of the blackbird family. A rusty blackbird becomes more glossy black after the winter.

How cute are they?

These medium-sized blackbirds are really cute with their rusty feather edges and pale yellow eyes.

How do they communicate?

A piercing, high-pitched song that sounds like a creaking rusty hinge is sung by both male and female birds in the breeding grounds during spring to attract mates or defend the territory in the breeding range. Their usual 'chuk-chuk' call, even though less husky, sounds similar to that of the common grackle.

These blackbirds are also known to make gurgle or squiggle sounds during migration.

How big is a Rusty Blackbird?

With a mass of 1.7-2.8 oz (47-80 g) and length of approximately 8.3-9.8 in (21-25 cm), these birds are considered to be of medium size. They have a wingspan of 14.6 in (37 cm). They are almost one-third the size of a common raven.

How fast can a Rusty Blackbird fly?

Rusty blackbirds can fly as fast as 18.64-23mph (30-37kph).

How much does a Rusty Blackbird weigh?

An average rusty blackbird weighs around 1.7-2.8 oz (47-80g).

What are their male and female names of the species?

A bird of this species, whether male or female, is commonly known as a rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus).

What would you call a baby Rusty Blackbird?

A young baby rusty blackbird, in general, can be referred to as a chick, nestling, or fledgling.

What do they eat?

They are omnivores. They feed mainly on aquatic insects like mayflies, water beetles, caddisflies, etc., and seeds. They eat crustaceans and small fish as well. During winter, when insects are scarce, they also feed on acorns and fruits.

Are they dangerous?

No, rusty blackbirds are harmless. But, red-winged blackbirds, a related bird species, are known to attack humans during nesting.

Would they make a good pet?

This species of bird is not kept as pets. However, owing to the drastic decline in their population, measures are being taken to find and conserve them.

Did you know...

To increase the efforts in conserving this species, the International Rusty Blackbird Working Group organized a project called the 'Rusty Blackbird Spring Migration Blitz', asking birders to provide any data about the migration of these birds on eBird.

Despite blackbirds being a commonly known family of birds, rusty blackbirds are lesser-known species owing to their declining numbers.

The Rusty Blackbird's call

The 'chuk-chuk' rusty blackbird call is known for sounding like the squeaky creaking of a rusty hinge. Their song, the 'kerglee' sung during breeding and migration, is high-pitched and piercing. The hoarse 'squiggle' or 'gurgle' call is often produced during migration with a series of rapid and undulating notes.

Comparisons with similar birds

Common grackle: They are larger in size. They have longer bills and tails. The males have purple feathers on their heads, and the females have more iridescence. Their songs are huskier.

Brewer's blackbird: They have a thicker beak base and are more green iridescence. During winter, the females have more brownish plumage than grayish. They have more piercing whistles.

Red-winged blackbird: They are black-eyed and have red feathers on their wings. They have more conical and stouter bills. Their songs are more nasal.

Brown-headed cowbird: They have dark, pitch-black eyes and stocky bills. Their heads are brown. The females are less grayish and more brownish.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds including the ring-necked duck and the Muscovy duck.

You can even occupy yourself at home by drawing one of our blackbird coloring pages.

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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Smriti Chaudhary

Bachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

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Smriti ChaudharyBachelor of Technology specializing in Information Technology

Smriti, a student data scientist, and coder, is pursuing her Bachelor of Technology at K.J. Somaiya College of Engineering. She has achieved top rankings in the International English Olympiad, National Spelling Bee, and PSAT/SAT English Section. She is experienced in content creation and editing for various academic institutions.

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