Birds – Rusty Blackbird

(Scolecophagus carolinus)

Called also : THRUSH BLACKBIRD ; RUSTY GRACKLE ;

RUSTY ORIOLE ; RUSTY CROW ; BLACKBIRD

Length—9 to 9.55 inches. A trifle smaller than the robin.

Male—In full plumage, glossy black with metallic reflections, intermixed with rusty brown that becomes more pronounced as the season advances. Pale straw-colored eyes.

Female—Duller plumage and more rusty, inclining to gray. Light line over eye. Smaller than male.

Range—North America, from Newfoundland to Gulf of Mexico and westward to the Plains.

Migrations—April. November. A few winter north.

A more sociable bird than the grackle, though it travel in smaller flocks, the rusty blackbird condescends to mingle freely with other feathered friends in marshes and by brooksides. You can identify it by its rusty feathers and pale yellow eye, and easily distinguish the rusty-gray female from the female redwing that is conspicuously streaked.

In April flocks of these birds may frequently be seen along sluggish, secluded streams in the woods, feeding upon the seeds of various water or brookside plants, and probably upon insects also. At such times they often indulge in a curious spluttering, squeaking, musical concert that one listens to with pleasure. The breeding range is mostly north of the United States. But little seems to be known of the birds’ habits in their northern home.

Why it should ever have been called a thrush blackbird is one of those inscrutable mysteries peculiar to the naming of birds which are so frequently called precisely what they are not. In spite of the compliment implied in associating the name of one of our finest songsters with it, the rusty blackbird has a clucking call as unmusical as it is infrequent, and only very rarely in the spring does it pipe a note that even suggests the sweetness of the redwing’s.