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Rusty Blackbird - BirdForum Opus

Adult in "rusty" winter plumage
Photo by Marcel Gauthier
Location: Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada, Jan. 2006
Euphagus carolinus


21-25cm (9 ins)

  • Medium-long tail
  • Narrow, pointed bill
  • Rusty feather edges over much of their plumage in autumn and winter
  • Pale yellow eyes

Breeding male

  • Black, with a greenish sheen
Photo by bluedubius
Kingsport, Tennessee, USA, March 2004

Breeding female

  • Slate-grey

"Rusty" refers to the brownish winter plumage, which wears off by the spring, giving the all dark plumage.

Similar Species

Less glossy than the Brewer's Blackbird.


Canada and Alaska; also found in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the Adirondacks in New York. Winters throughout the eastern United States south of New York.

Rare vagrant in western states. Accidental vagrant to Greenland.

Uncommon and declining, rare in the west.


Graphic by Nrg800


This is a polytypic species[1] consisting of 2 subspecies:

  • E. c. carolinus:
N Alaska and n Yukon to ne US; > to Gulf States
  • E. c. nigrans Newfoundland, Magdalen I., and Nova Scotia; > to Georgia


Bogs and swampy areas, almost always found near water. Wet woodlands.


Immature showing the rusty coloration
Photo by HelenB
Brazos Bend SP, Texas, USA, Jan. 2009

Feeds on the ground in boggy, muddy areas. Diet includes insects and plant matter, but it sometimes attacks and eats other birds. It has been documented feeding on sparrows, robins, and snipe, among others.


Nests in the far north of N. America. The cup shaped nest is built in a tree or dense shrub, usually over water.


Song: a high squeaky kssh-dlleee.
Call: a harsh chuck.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2015. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2015, with updates to August 2015. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. All About Birds

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.