I was able to photograph a few Brewer’s Blackbirds yesterday morning on Antelope Island and this male displaying was one of them. Brewer’s Blackbirds are year round residents here and they are now getting ready to breed.
Although they are common within their range, Brewer’s Blackbirds populations declined by over 2 percent per year between 1966 and 2010 (amounting to a cumulative decline of 61 percent), according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.
Blackbirds are trapped, shot and poisoned near agricultural areas because they sometimes eat the crops but they are far more beneficial because they also eat insect pests. Brewer’s Blackbirds are a target species of the “Bye bye Blackbird” USDA Wildlife Services Program, a program that uses DRC-1339, an avicide. DRC-1339 causes severe renal failure and congestion to the bird’s major organs and does affect non-target species of birds as well.
I have written more about the Bye bye Blackbird program in this post: Bye bye Blackbirds?
I wish I had better news about this bird species and the others that are in decline. Dismantling the USDA Wildlife Services Bye bye Blackbird Program would be a start in this species recovery since they kill over 4 million “blackbirds” a year.
PS: Brewer’s Blackbirds are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act but apparently Wildlife Services can kill any thing they want to.