Rusty Blackbird

Euphagus carolinus

The Rusty Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird. It is closely related to Grackles. It was also called as Rusty Grackle in old time.

Adults have a pointed bill and a pale yellow eye. They have black plumage; the female is greyer. Rusty refers to the brownish winter plumage. They resemble the western member of the same genus, the Brewer's Blackbird; however, this bird has a longer bill and the male's head is iridescent green.

Their breeding habitat is wet temperate coniferous forests and muskeg across Canada and Alaska. The cup nest is located in a tree or dense shrub, usually over water. Birds often nest at the edge of ponds/wetland complexes and travel large distances to feed at the waters edge. Emerging dragonflies and their larvae are important food items during the summer.

These birds migrate to the eastern and southeastern United States, into parts of the Grain Belt, sometimes straying into Mexico.

They forage on wet ground or in shallow water, mainly eating insects, small fish and some seeds. Their most common mode of foraging is to vigorously flip leaves and rip at submerged aquatic vegetation. The mast of small-acorn producing oaks, such as Willow Oak, is also important. In some areas, the nuts of planted pecans are heavily used. They very rarely will attack small passerine birds, and have been known to kill species as large as Common Snipe. They feed in flocks during migration and on the wintering grounds, sometimes joining other blackbirds, both often occurring in single species flocks. They more often roost with other blackbirds; some small roosts are in brushy vegetation in old fields and others are in massive mixed flocks; sometimes in the urban areas.

The species nests relatively early for a boreal forest bird. They linger in the boreal zone to complete their molt. Their autumn migration is slow, with birds often remaining in the northern states well into December; spring migration is much more rapid. The largest wintering concentrations are found in the lower Mississippi Valley, with smaller concentrations in the Piedmont and south Atlantic coastal plain.


Regional Names
  • French:
    Quiscale rouilleux
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Euphagus carolinus

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