Date: 2/13/20 12:34 pm
From: Jay V Huner <jay.huner1...>
Subject: Re: [LABIRD-L] AWOL blackbirds
My thoughts are that Rusty Blackbirds do forage in wet areas. During the Winter Quad Surveys, I often found Rusty Blackbirds on hills in yards and pastures during wet periods. I'm not so sure they are forced out of low lands by high water so much as they find new wet areas for foraging during rainy periods. After all, they could just move to where the new "shore line" is without having to leave low areas in bottoms and similar habitats.

Jay Huner
From: Bulletin Board for Dissemination of Information on Louisiana Birds <LABIRD-L...> on behalf of David Booth <david...>
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2020 4:51 AM
To: <LABIRD-L...> <LABIRD-L...>
Subject: Re: [LABIRD-L] AWOL blackbirds

Charles, I had an interesting sequence of experiences last Thursday and Friday relative to your observation. I was working on my Parish Lists in Tangipahoa and St. Helena Parishes on Thursday. Apparently there was a lot of rain on Wednesday or Wednesday night as the streams, roadside ditches and fields were swollen and very wet on Thursday morning. I found many flocks of blackbirds some mixed and some not. There were many Rusty, C. Grackle, Redwing and some Brewer's. There were lots and lots of Robins and a few other Starlings etc. They were plentiful.

Apparently the standing water drains quickly, because on Friday most of the puddles and ditches were gone or much lower and the birds were not to be found anywhere except for a few Robins and Brewers. I traveled to most of the same locations with no findings of the Rusty or C. Grackles. It was mystifying.

I was wondering if the high water drove them to higher grounds (small towns and fields) and when their forested areas drained off, if they just returned to their normal haunts. Anywone else have observations along these lines?

David Booth

-----Original Message-----
From: Bulletin Board for Dissemination of Information on Louisiana Birds [mailto:<LABIRD-L...>] On Behalf Of Charles Williams
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2020 9:29 AM
To: <LABIRD-L...>
Subject: [LABIRD-L] AWOL blackbirds

Back Monday from a two-week trip, I expected to find my daily blackbird
flocks had arrived here in Comite Hills, EBR Parish. But this is not the
case. There were no blackbirds of any species until this morning when I
found five rusty blackbirds mixing with a small group of robins on a nearby
lawn. Usually by this point in the winter, I would have a single species
or more often mixed flock of 100+ on a daily basis (rusties, redwings, and
grackles in that order of prominence). I assume this is probably just one
of those inexplicable deviations in birds' preferences and movement, but
the change is surprising enough that I wondered if other birders are also
noting a reduction in the numbers of wintering rusties.

Charles Williams
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