Euphagus carolinus - (Müller, 1776)
Rusty Blackbird
Other English Common Names: rusty blackbird
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Euphagus carolinus (Statius Muller, 1776) (TSN 179091)
French Common Names: quiscale rouilleux
Spanish Common Names: Tordo Canadiense
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.101597
Element Code: ABPBXB5010
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 11145

© Jeff Nadler

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Icteridae Euphagus
Genus Size: B - Very small genus (2-5 species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Euphagus carolinus
Taxonomic Comments: Two subspecies are recognized in North America: Euphagus carolinus carolinus, which occupies most of the species' range, and the darker E. c. nigrans, which breeds in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Magdalen Island, and possibly eastern New Brunswick (AOU 1957, Avery 1995).

Few comprehensive molecular or morphological studies have been conducted on relationships between rusty blackbirds and other members of the sizeable family Icteridae. Brewer's blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) is likely the closest relative. Species in the genus Euphagus are probably more closely allied with the grackles (Quiscalus) than to Agelaius blackbirds (Avery 1995).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G4
Global Status Last Reviewed: 07Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 16Sep2003
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G4 - Apparently Secure
Reasons: The reasons behind current trends are poorly understood but several threats are suspected to be causing the declines. The destruction and conversion of boreal wetlands (predominantly in the southern boreal forests) is a significant threat to the species. Strip-mining for tar sands is expected to increase in the future, with up to 300,000 ha of Canada's boreal forest and wetland predicted to be directly affected over the next 30 to 50 years (Wellsÿet al.ÿ2008). Other possible threats include boreal wetland drying and chemical change resulting from global climate change, depletion of available calcium resulting from acid precipitation, increase in methyl mercury, loss of wooded wetlands in the south-east U.S. winter range, and mortality associated with past and ongoing blackbird control efforts. (Birdlife International, 2014).
Nation: United States
National Status: N4B,N4N (05Jan1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N4B,NUN,N4M (08Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (S4N), Alaska (S4B,S3N), Arkansas (S2N), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (SNA), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (S3N), Florida (S2S3N), Georgia (S3), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (S2S3N), Iowa (S3N), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (S3S4N), Louisiana (S3N), Maine (S3N,S3S4B), Maryland (S2S3N), Massachusetts (S1?B,S3N), Michigan (SNRN), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (S2N), Missouri (SNRN), Montana (SNA), Navajo Nation (SNR), Nebraska (SNRN), New Hampshire (S3B), New Jersey (S4N), New Mexico (S2N), New York (S2B), North Carolina (S3N), North Dakota (SNA), Ohio (SNA), Oklahoma (S3N), Pennsylvania (S3N), Rhode Island (SNA), South Carolina (SNRN), South Dakota (S2N), Tennessee (S4N), Texas (S3), Vermont (S3B), Virginia (SNRN), Washington (SNA), West Virginia (S1N), Wisconsin (SNA), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Alberta (S3S4B), British Columbia (S3S4B), Labrador (S3B,SUM), Manitoba (S3S4B), New Brunswick (S3B,S3M), Newfoundland Island (S2S3B,SUM), Northwest Territories (S3B), Nova Scotia (S2B), Nunavut (SUB,SUM), Ontario (S4B), Prince Edward Island (S1B), Quebec (S3S4), Saskatchewan (S4B), Yukon Territory (S3B)

Other Statuses

Canadian Species at Risk Act (SARA) Schedule 1/Annexe 1 Status: SC (05Mar2009)
Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC): Special Concern (28Apr2017)
Comments on COSEWIC: Reason for designation: Factors that threaten the persistence of this species in Canada have not been reversed or effectively managed since it was assessed as Special Concern in 2006. This species experienced steep population declines through the twentieth century, which may have stabilized recently. This may only be a temporary reprieve, as many important threats contributing to these declines have not been corrected, particularly on the U.S. wintering range. These problems include loss and degradation of wintering habitat due to wetland conversion and dam construction, blackbird control programs in agricultural areas, and impacts from the use of agricultural pesticides.  Continuing threats on Canadian breeding grounds include mercury contamination and degradation of wetland habitat due to warming, acidification, and drying climates.

Status history: Designated Special Concern in April 2006. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 2017.

IUCN Red List Category: VU - Vulnerable

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: >2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: Breeding range extends from western and north-central Alaska to southern Keewatin and Labrador, south to central British Columbia, central Saskatchewan, northern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron, southeastern Ontario, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, northeastern New York, Massachusetts, and Nova Scotia (Avery 1995). During the nonbreeding season, this species ranges from southcoastal Alaska, southern Canada, and northern United States south to Texas, Gulf Coast, and northern Florida (but primarily in the southeastern United States) (Avery 1995).

Area of Occupancy: >12,500 4-km2 grid cells
Area of Occupancy Comments: Estimate but probably reasonable given population size still despite declines.

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300
Number of Occurrences Comments: With a population estimate of over 5 million (Partners in Flight, 2013) and a distribution across all of northern Canada (Birdlife International, 2014), ther are undoubtedly at least 81 element occurrences for this species. But this species is classifed as vulnerable by Birdlife International

Population Size: >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: Post-breeding global abundance estimated at 4,900,000 individuals by Blancher (2003) based on analysis of North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) and Canadian Breeding Bird Census (BBC) data. For the same time period, Rich et al. (2004) estimated a global population of about 2,000,000 birds based on BBS survey data. The disparity between population estimates demonstrates the current lack of abundance data and the potential inadequacies of using the BBS to survey for this species due, in part, to the relative inaccessibility of most of the species breeding range (Hannah 2004).

Results from the North American BBS indicate a survey-wide average of 0.27 birds/survey route for 1966-2004 (Sauer et al. 2005). Breeding densities are generally very low, even at the center of the breeding range (Flood 1987, Hannah 2004). Densities are generally higher in northwestern Canada than in Atlantic Canada. In northern Saskatchewan, densities ranged from 2 to 31 individuals/km2 (Hobson et al 2000); in the Hudson Bay lowlands of northern Manitoba densities were 20 individuals/km2 (Gillespie and Kendeigh 1982); in the Old Crow region, Yukon Territory, densities range from 18 to 90 individuals/km2; and in British Columbia, densities of 5 individuals/km2 were reported (Erskine 1977). In Alaska, densities are relatively high, ranging from 10 to 30 territories/km2 (Hannah 2004).

Number of Occurrences with Good Viability/Integrity: Some to very many (13 to >125)
Viability/Integrity Comments: Wide estimate range because of apparent decline in population numbers

Overall Threat Impact Comments: On wintering grounds, potential threats and/or causes for observed population decline include destruction of wooded wetlands and blackbird control programs; on breeding grounds, acid precipitation and conversion of boreal forest wetlands have been implied (Greenberg and Droege 1999).

Habitat degradation: Land-use practices that degrade or reduce wooded wetlands are detrimental to this species' habitat needs (Avery 1995). Greatest loss of wooded wetlands is on the wintering grounds. Between the mid-1950s and mid-1980s, about 25% of remaining wooded wetlands in the southeastern U.S, an area that encompasses most of the species' winter range, were drained and converted (Hefner and Brown 1984, Greenberg and Droege 1999). However, modern rates of wooded wetland conversion may not be sufficient to explain the severity of recent declines; changes on the breeding grounds may also be limiting this species (Greenberg and Droege 1999). Several other species that utilize high-latitude wetland habitats for breeding, such as the Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritius) and Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes), are also experiencing survey-wide (BBS) declines (Sauer et al. 2005).

Clearcut logging on breeding grounds removes habitat and may also encourage establishment of competitors Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds (Agelaius phoeniceus) (Ellison 1990), or encourage invasion by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater), a common and potentially problematic nest parasite (Avery 1995). Conversely, recently logged habitat, when saturated with water, may provide breeding habitat for this species; Ellison (1990) found several Rusty Blackbird nests and fledglings in recent clearcuts in Vermont. Although recent clearcuts may satisfy habitat requirements for this species, no data exists on the relative quality of these sites (Hannah 2000, 2004).

Blackbird control programs: Rusty Blackbirds may form mixed-species flocks in winter with other blackbirds and starlings, regularly exceeding 1 million birds. As a result, species has been subjected to lethal control to reduce nuisance, health, and crop damage problems (Avery 1995). Winter roost control programs in the eastern U.S. coincided with declines in Common Grackle populations (Avery 1995, Greenberg and Droege 1999). The overall effect on Rusty Blackbird populations is unknown but suspected localized and nominal, as this species typically constitutes <1% of winter roosts (Avery 1995).

Wetland acidification: Acidification of boreal wetlands due to industrial emissions is also of concern, particularly in eastern North America, but overall effects are unknown (Greenberg and Droege 1999). Since Rusty Blackbirds inhabit areas with naturally high soil acidity, it is difficult to determine the real impact of acidification (Darveau et al. 1989, Savignac 2004). Declines in snail abundance in acidified soils in the Netherlands have been linked to declines in passerine production (Graveland et al. 1994); given the high proportion of snails and mollusks in Rusty Blackbird diets, the impacts of acidification on food resources could be of concern (Greenberg and Droege 1999).

Short-term Trend Comments: A statistically significant, survey-wide decline of -10.3% per year (P < 0.01, n = 96), 1966-2004, is indicated by North American Breeding Bird Survey data (Sauer et al. 2005). The latest 2002 - 2012 results show a 3.49% annual decline (Sauer, et. al. 2014), which translates to a 70% decline in numbers over the 10 year time period

Long-term Trend: Decline of >90%
Long-term Trend Comments: A significant, range-wide decline of approximately 90% over the past 4-5 decades is indicated by data from the Breeding Bird Survey, Christmas Bird Counts, and Quebec Checklist Program (Greenberg and Droege 1999, Niven et al. 2004, Savignac 2004, Sauer et al. 2005). Analyses of abundance classifications in bird distribution books and annotated checklists reveal a long-term decline dating back to at least the early part of the 1900s (Greenberg and Droege 1999). The latest BBS (Sauer, et. al. 2014) has a 5.56% decline over the 1966 - 2012 time period.

Intrinsic Vulnerability: Highly to moderately vulnerable.
Intrinsic Vulnerability Comments: This species breeds in boreal wetlands of Canada, a region that will be affected by climate change (Avery, 2013). Acid rain and mercury accumulation within its distributioni may also be factors (National Audubon Society, 2014).

Environmental Specificity: Narrow to moderate.
Environmental Specificity Comments: Limited to boreal regions of Canada for breeding.

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Inventory Needs: BBS and other traditional large-scale monitoring programs are insufficient for this species; methods to better survey remote roadless and wetland areas should be explored, including efforts similar to the Off-road Breeding Bird Survey (ORBBS) and the Alaska Landbird Monitoring Survey (ALMS); the status of breeding populations needs to be clarified throughout the range (Hannah 2004).

Protection Needs: Stop lethal control of blackbirds in areas where Rusty Blackbirds are known to winter in high numbers

Distribution
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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) Breeding range extends from western and north-central Alaska to southern Keewatin and Labrador, south to central British Columbia, central Saskatchewan, northern shores of Lake Superior and Lake Huron, southeastern Ontario, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, northeastern New York, Massachusetts, and Nova Scotia (Avery 1995). During the nonbreeding season, this species ranges from southcoastal Alaska, southern Canada, and northern United States south to Texas, Gulf Coast, and northern Florida (but primarily in the southeastern United States) (Avery 1995).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AK, AL, AR, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NN, NY, OH, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY
Canada AB, BC, LB, MB, NB, NF, NS, NT, NU, ON, PE, QC, SK, YT

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
AK Aleutians West (CA) (02016), Anchorage (02020), Bethel (CA) (02050), Bristol Bay (02060), Denali (02068), Dillingham (CA) (02070), Fairbanks North Star (02090), Haines (02100), Juneau (02110), Kenai Peninsula (02122), Ketchikan Gateway (02130)*, Lake and Peninsula (02164), Matanuska-Susitna (02170), Nome (CA) (02180), North Slope (02185), Northwest Arctic (02188), Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan (CA) (02201)*, Sitka (02220)*, Skagway-Hoonah-Angoon (CA) (02232), Southeast Fairbanks (CA) (02240), Valdez-Cordova (CA) (02261), Wade Hampton (CA) (02270), Wrangell-Petersburg (CA) (02280), Yakutat (02282), Yukon-Koyukuk (CA) (02290)
MS Clay (28025), Coahoma (28027), DeSoto (28033), George (28039), Grenada (28043), Hancock (28045), Hinds (28049), Issaquena (28055), Itawamba (28057), Jackson (28059), Lafayette (28071), Lauderdale (28075), Lee (28081), Lowndes (28087), Madison (28089), Noxubee (28103), Oktibbeha (28105), Panola (28107), Pearl River (28109), Rankin (28121), Tate (28137), Tishomingo (28141), Tunica (28143), Warren (28149), Washington (28151), Yalobusha (28161)
NH Carroll (33003), Coos (33007), Grafton (33009), Hillsborough (33011)
NY Essex (36031), Franklin (36033), Hamilton (36041), St. Lawrence (36089)
VT Bennington (50003), Caledonia (50005), Essex (50009), Lamoille (50015), Orleans (50019), Rutland (50021), Washington (50023), Windham (50025), Windsor (50027)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Saco (01060002)+, Pemigewasset (01070001)+, Contoocook (01070003)+, Upper Connecticut (01080101)+, Passumpsic (01080102)+, Waits (01080103)+, White (01080105)+, Black-Ottauquechee (01080106)+, West (01080107)+
02 Upper Hudson (02020001)+, Hudson-Hoosic (02020003)+
03 Upper Tombigbee (03160101)+, Town (03160102)+, Tibbee (03160104)+, Middle Tombigbee-Lubbub (03160106)+, Noxubee (03160108)+, Sucarnoochee (03160202)+, Chunky-Okatibbee (03170001)+, Pascagoula (03170006)+, Black (03170007)+, Escatawpa (03170008)+, Mississippi Coastal (03170009)+, Middle Pearl-Strong (03180002)+, Lower Pearl. Mississippi (03180004)+
04 Black (04150101)+, Grass (04150304)+, Raquette (04150305)+, St. Regis (04150306)+, English-Salmon (04150307)+, Winooski River (04150403)+, Ausable River (04150404)+, Lamoille River (04150405)+, St. Francois River (04150500)+
08 Horn Lake-Nonconnah (08010211)+*, Lower Mississippi-Greenville (08030100)+, Little Tallahatchie (08030201)+, Tallahatchie (08030202)+, Yocona (08030203)+, Coldwater (08030204)+, Yalobusha (08030205)+, Lower Yazoo (08030208)+, Deer-Steele (08030209)+, Lower Mississippi-Natchez (08060100)+
19 Southeast Mainland (19010101)+, Ketchikan (19010102)+*, Mainland (19010201)+, Kuiu-Kupreanof-Mitkof-Etolin-Zarembo-Wrangell Isla (19010202)+, Admiralty Island (19010204)+*, Lynn Canal (19010301)+, Glacier Bay (19010302)+*, Chilkat-Skagway Rivers (19010303)+, Taku River (19010304)+, Yakutat Bay (19010401)+, Icy Strait-Chatham Strait (19010500)+, Upper Copper River (19020101)+, Middle Copper River (19020102)+, Chitina River (19020103)+, Lower Copper River (19020104)+, Eastern Prince William Sound (19020201)+, Western Prince William Sound (19020202)+, Prince William Sound (19020203)+, Lower Kenai Peninsula (19020301)+, Upper Kenai Peninsula (19020302)+, Anchorage (19020401)+, Matansuka (19020402)+, Upper Susitna River (19020501)+, Chulitna River (19020502)+, Talkeetna River (19020503)+, Yentna River (19020504)+, Lower Susitna River (19020505)+, Shelikof Straight (19020702)+*, Cook Inlet (19020800)+, Pribilof Islands (19030104)+, Ugashik Bay (19030202)+, Egegik Bay (19030203)+, Naknek (19030204)+, Lake Clark (19030205)+, Lake Iliamna (19030206)+, Upper Nushagak River (19030301)+, Lower Nushagak River (19030303)+, Wood River (19030304)+, Togiak (19030305)+, Nushagak Bay (19030306)+, North Fork Kuskokwim River (19030401)+*, Takotna River (19030403)+, Stony River (19030405)+, Aniak (19030501)+, Kuskokwim Delta (19030502)+, White River (19040101)+, Ladue River (19040102)+, Sheenjek River (19040203)+, Black River (19040204)+, Porcupine Flats (19040205)+, Grass River (19040206)+, Eagle To Circle (19040401)+, Birch-Beaver Creeks (19040402)+, Yukon Flats (19040403)+, Nebesna-Chisana Rivers (19040501)+, Tok (19040502)+, Delta River (19040504)+, Salcha River (19040505)+, Chena River (19040506)+, Tanana River (19040507)+, Nenana River (19040508)+, Tolovana River (19040509)+, Kantishna River (19040510)+*, Upper Koyukuk River (19040601)+, South Fork Koyukuk River (19040602)+, Alatna River (19040603)+, Kanuti River (19040604)+, Allakaket River (19040605)+, Kateel River (19040609)+, Galena (19040705)+, Anvik River (19040801)+, Lower Innoko River (19040803)+, Anvik to Pilot Station (19040804)+, Yukon Delta (19040805)+, St. Lawrence Island (19050101)+*, Unalakleet (19050102)+, Norton Bay (19050103)+, Nome (19050104)+, Imuruk Basin (19050105)+, Shishmaref (19050201)+, Goodhope-Spafarief Bay (19050202)+, Selawik Lake (19050301)+, Upper Kobuk River (19050302)+, Middle Kobuk River (19050303)+, Lower Kobuk River (19050304)+, Upper Noatak River (19050401)+, Middle Noatak River (19050402)+*, Lower Noatak River (19050403)+, Wulik-Kivalina Rivers (19050404)+*, Kotzebue Sound (19050500)+, Killik River (19060302)+*, Chandler-Anaktuvuk Rivers (19060303)+*, Kuparuk River (19060401)+, Sagavanirktok River (19060402)+, Canning River (19060501)+*
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A medium-sized passerine.
Reproduction Comments: Clutch size is 4-5. Incubation, by female, lasts 14 days. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at about 13 days.
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Arrives in northern U.S. February-April (Terres 1980).
Palustrine Habitat(s): Bog/fen, FORESTED WETLAND, Riparian, SCRUB-SHRUB WETLAND
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Cropland/hedgerow, Grassland/herbaceous, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Conifer
Habitat Comments: Breeding habitat includes moist woodland (primarily coniferous), bushy bogs and fens, and wooded edges of water courses and beaver ponds. Nests are in trees or shrubs, usually in or near water, frequently in a conifer to about 6 meters above ground. During migration and winter, habitat is primarily wooded wetlands and riparian areas but also includes various open woodlands, scrub, pastures, and cultivated lands (AOU 1983).
Adult Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Frugivore, Granivore, Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects and various other invertebrates, some small amphibians and fishes, seeds, grains, small fruits; forages on ground and in shallow water (Terres 1980).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 23 centimeters
Weight: 64 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Biological Research Needs: Research using stable isotopes to link wintering and breeding populations, and to connect demographic changes with specific regions of North America, is underway in the United States and Canada (CWS 2005). Additional research is needed to understand the cause(s) of the population decline. Natural history and breeding biology, including productivity and courtship behavior, require further study. Also needed is information on foraging behavior and diet, flocking habits, and habitat and resource use during the nonbreeding season (Greenberg and Droege 1999). Loss of key wetland habitat on wintering grounds has been extensive, but this bird appears to be more flexible than previously thought in its use of wintering habitat. We need better data on use of wintering habitat in this species, and on diet in those areas.Vocal behavior on the breeding grounds is not well understood, particularly the functions of the 2 types of male song and the function of the female song. Social organization during the nesting season appears variable and perhaps is influenced by the type and structure of the available habitat. Unambiguous evidence of colonial nesting is needed; also, factors governing whether the species nests singly or in colonies should be investigated. (Avery, 2013).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 25Nov2014
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Jue, Dean K.
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 01Aug2007
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

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