January 27, 2016 – Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus)

Breeding in Canada and Alaska, these blackbirds winter in the eastern United States. Foraging mostly on the ground, they eat insects in the summer, switching to acorns, pine seeds, and fruits in the winter. The change from their winter to summer plumage happens as the lighter-colored feather tips wear off, revealing a glossier black. Classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN, they have undergone a steep and mysterious decline of over 90 percent in the last forty years. Habitat destruction and mercury contamination could be contributors to this decline.

Because I drew this bird on the anniversary of drawing my original blackbird, I chose a closely related species and kept the background similar. You can see my first bird, the Brewer’s Blackbird, here: http://birdstudies.net/post/76044950444/january-27-2014-brewers-blackbird-euphagus and the female, which I drew last year here: http://birdstudies.net/post/110764791524/january-27-2015-brewers-blackbird-euphagus