Citizen Science – Tricolored Blackbirds

citizen science

Far away in a distant land, miles away from Illinois, live small colonies of wondrous birds never seen by a Birdfreak.

Although they might look like our oh-so-common Red-wing Blackbirds, Tricolored Blackbirds are a localized species of small numbers occurring mainly in California.

Tricolored Blackbirds near Drake’s Beach at Pt. Reyes, California
Photo courtesy of Doug Greenberg

An effort to monitor the annual distribution and abundance of the Tricolored Blackbird population was initiated in 1994 by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and other state and federal organizations.

California eBird will be looking for volunteers for a Citizen Science project to track the colony locations and numbers of Tricolored Blackbirds. We decided that perhaps we could help out by spreading the word. The survey will take place over one full day between April 25th and 27th, 2008. Additional survey data will also be welcome.

Almost all (95-99%) Tricolored Blackbirds live within California and they are hard to track as their colonies move from year-to-year. A statewide survey is necessary to study their numbers. As of 1997 approximately 233,000 Tricolored Blackbirds remained, a decline of nearly 34% since a previous survey only three years earlier, in 1994. They are on Audubon’s WatchList as their numbers have declined so rapidly.

A one day count and a few caring birders will make tracking the Tricolored Blackbird much easier, and knowing their status helps conservation efforts for the bird immensely.

California Partners In Flight -Species Range Maps and Habitat Maps, 2004

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