Euphagus carolinus


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Euphagus carolinus
Species Authority: (Müller, 1776)
Common Name(s):
English Rusty Blackbird

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Vulnerable A2cde+3cde+4cde ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Butcher, G., Greenberg, R. & Wells, J.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Ekstrom, J.
This species has experienced a long term population decline which has been rapid during the past decade. For this reason it is currently classified as Vulnerable. More accurate survey data may warrant a re-evaluation of its status.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Euphagus carolinus has a large range, breeding across the boreal zone of North America from New England, through Canada to Alaska and winters widely across the south-eastern United States. The population was estimated at 2 million individuals based on data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey collected during the 1980s and 1990s. This figure is now likely to be a considerable overestimate as the species continues to decline. Estimates of the global decline since 1966 vary between 85% and 99%. This ongoing decline follows a longer term decline that began prior to 1950. The reasons for this dramatic decline remain poorly understood.

Canada; Saint Pierre and Miquelon; United States
Greenland; Mexico; Russian Federation
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number anywhere between 0.2-2 million individuals (R. Greenberg in litt. 2006).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It breeds in boreal wetlands, primarily around ponds and streams within the boreal forest. It winters primarily in wooded wetlands and is not strongly associated with open agricultural habitats.

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): 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 (Wells et al. 2008). 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.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
The species is not currently listed under the United States Endangered Species Act but there is an International Rusty Blackbird Technical Group set up to research trends, threats and actions for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor population trends. Identify the reasons behind long-term declines. Devise suitable actions to reverse declines. Consider listing under US Endangered Species Act. Protect suitable habitat.

Citation: BirdLife International 2012. Euphagus carolinus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <>. Downloaded on 28 August 2015.
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