Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)

Rusty Blackbird

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Icteridae | [latin] Euphagus carolinus | [UK] Rusty Blackbird | [FR] Quiscale rouille | [DE] Roststarling | [ES] Turpial Rojizo | [NL] Zwarte Troepiaal


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Euphagus carolinus NA n se USA
Euphagus carolinus carolinus
Euphagus carolinus nigrans

Physical charateristics

Rusty only in fall or winter; otherwise suggests Brewer’s Blackbird or a short-tailed Grackle. Male, spring: A Robin-sized blackbird with a pale yellow eye. Black head of breeding male may show faint greenish
gloss (not purplish). Female, spring: Slate-colored, with a light eye. Fall and winter adults: Washed with rusty; males barred below.

Listen to the sound of Rusty Blackbird

[audio: Blackbird.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 35 cm wingspan max.: 13 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 25 cm
incubation min.: 15 days incubation max.: 11 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 1 days
broods: 3   eggs min.: 6  
      eggs max.: 0  


North America : North


River groves, wooded swamps; muskeg in summer.
Breeds in the muskeg region, in wet northern coniferous forest with many lakes and bogs. During migration and winter, favors areas with trees near water, as in wooded swamps and riverside forest; will also forage in open fields and cattle feedlots with o
ther blackbirds.


Sometimes nests in small, loose colonies, but more typically in isolated pairs. Male gives harsh, grating song in spring, to defend nesting territory or to attract a mate.
Site is in dense cover, usually in conifer or in shrubs above the water; placed very low, typically only a few feet above water or ground, but can be up to 20′ high in coniferous tree. Nest (built by female) is a bulky open cup of twigs and grass, often
with foundation of Usnea lichens, the inner bowl shaped of mudlike decaying plant material from the forest floor; lined with fine grass.
Eggs: 4-5. Pale blue-green, spotted with brown and gray. Incubation is by female only, about 14 days.
Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave the nest about 13-14 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects and seeds. Majority of annual diet is insects, including many aquatic insects such as caddisflies, mayflies, dragonflies, and water beetles, plus land insects such as
grasshoppers and others. Also eats snails, crustaceans, small fish, small salamanders. Eats many seeds and waste grain, especially in winter; also a few berries.
Behavior: Forages mostly by walking on wet ground or wading in shallow water. May be solitary or in flocks. May join flocks of other blackbirds and feed with them in dry fields.


This species has experienced a long term population decline which has been rapid during the past decade. For this reason it is currently classified as Vulnerable. More accurate survey data may warrant a re-evaluation of its status.
Rusty Blackbird status Vulnerable


Alaska, Canada, northeastern edge of United States. Winters mainly to southeastern United States. Migration:
Migrates relatively late in fall and early in spring. Strays appear in the West and Southwest most often in late fall.

Distribution map

Rusty Blackbird distribution range map

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