By Patty Elton, Certified Virginia Master Naturalist
According to the experts, populations of Rusty Blackbird Blitz was started three years ago in an attempt to solve this disturbing mystery. The Blitz is conducted throughout the bird’s range in the eastern US between January 29 and February 13, 2011.
Participating in this survey, three local citizen scientists ventured out to Bear Creek Lake State Park on February 2, one of the nicest days the region had experienced in several months. The temperatures climbed to a balmy 58 degrees with clear skies. Wendy Ealding, Mary Anna Wilcox, and Patty Elton decided to hike the Lakeside Trail, a portion of which hosts the bird’s preferred habitat of wooded swampland. This slender uncommon bird of 9” boasts a pale yellow iris and rusty feather edges.
The warm temperatures were certainly enjoyed by the three; however, they did not see nor hear a Rusty Blackbird. Favorable reports are coming in from Fairfax and Prince William County. The threesome did come away with a total bird species of 18 including three Red Breasted Nuthatch and a single Fox Sparrow, which incidentally is a first record on eBird for Bear Creek Lake State Park.