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Nanotagged Rusty Blackbirds Return “Home”

News & Events

Nanotagged Rusty Blackbirds Return “Home”

(by Carol Foss)

Two female Rusty Blackbirds from New Hampshire Audubon’s study area in the Upper Androscoggin Watershed that received NanoTags in June 2023 have returned to northern Coos County. One of these birds (see map) received her tag at her nest site in Dixville on June 11, 2023, and remained in northern New Hampshire into mid-fall. On October 12 she began her journey south, passing over receiving stations in Berlin and at our Massabesic Center in Auburn. After one or more stops south of there, she triggered receiving stations in Princeton, MA, Burlington, CT, and Quakertown, Downington, and Avondale, PA, on the night of November 5-6 at an average estimated speed of 48 mph. After spending the winter at an unknown location, she triggered receivers in Stevens, Leesport, and Tannersville, PA, on April 8, after which she made stopovers at one or more locations. On April 15 she passed Lee, MA, and on April 19 she flew over Berlin and the Dixville station near her previous nesting area.

A second female, tagged on June 22 in Atkinson and Gilmanton Academy Grant, passed Berlin en route south on October 13 and made one or more stopovers before reaching Wilmington, DE, and Patuxent, MD, on the night of November 1-2. Her last fall detection was in Clinton, SC, on November 12 en route to an unknown wintering location. On her way back north, she passed Wopsononock, PA, and Amsterdam, NY, on April 9 before making one or more stopovers. She managed to avoid further detections until triggering the receiver at our field station in Wentworth’s Location on April 15.

As soon as the mud dries out a bit, we will be plying the logging roads from Berlin to Pittsburg in search of these and other Rusty Blackbirds at their 2024 nesting areas. Here’s hoping for a productive year!