Brewer’s Blackbird – A Common Bird in Steep Decline

/, Birds, Brewer's Blackbirds, Davis County, Utah/Brewer’s Blackbird – A Common Bird in Steep Decline

Brewer's Blackbird male displayingBrewer’s Blackbird male displaying – Nikon D810, f8, 1/1000, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

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.

The 2014 State of the Birds Report lists Brewer’s Blackbird as a Common Bird in Steep Decline. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology states:

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.


  1. Utahbooklover April 15, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    Wildlife Services, a program housed in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spent $57 million taxpayer dollars last fiscal year to kill millions of animals at the behest of Big Ag. You can be a voice for wildlife. Tell the federal government not to spend your tax dollars slaughtering wildlife, according to WildEarth Gardians newsletter.

  2. Utahbooklover April 14, 2015 at 3:17 pm

    Thanks for this information, sad though it be. Really love the image of the blackbird displaying!

  3. Lois Bryan April 13, 2015 at 8:46 pm

    … ok, just read your previous post and I see that you made the connection as well.

  4. Lois Bryan April 13, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Tragic. They are beauties. I think I have a couple of shots of these guys from a trip I took to Canada a couple of years back … they look the same I think. I will have to look again and confirm. I wonder if this program you mention, “Bye Bye Blackbird,” is the real culprit behind the frequent and heretofore unexplained thousands of dead blackbirds mysteriously discovered around the country in recent years. Honestly, sometimes I’m ashamed to be associated with the human race. Well, frankly, the “sometimes” is becoming more and more frequent.

  5. Elephant's Child April 13, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Hiss and spit.

  6. Chris Rohrer April 13, 2015 at 9:55 am

    I had NO idea that they did this! That’s terrible. I especially didn’t know that the Brewer’s Blackbirds were in decline. That’s terrible news! People need to get their heads screwed on. These birds are so important to a healthy ecosystem. Sad.

  7. Patty Chadwick April 13, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Another sick,sick, sick “solution”…when will these morons realize how cruel, destructive and STUPID they are!!!!

  8. Johanna van de Woestijne April 13, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Mia, this is pretty shocking news about the targeting of “blackbirds” by the USDA Wildlife Services. Do you have any thoughts about where we could be sending letters to protest the killing of “blackbirds” of all sorts by Wildlife Services? I’m constantly signing online petitions. Do you think it would be worthwhile to start one? It does seem that Wildlife Services go to methods for everything are kill and poison, rather than mitigate through preventive means (such as cover cattle feeds or provide protected storage etc). They are pretty opaque too, so far as I know, to avoid public protests.

  9. Alex (stu) April 13, 2015 at 6:47 am

    So staggering about how the services we entrust to protect species seem intent on destroying them. like some sick joke. Such a startling eye this bird has. I do not think I have ever seen one. Great set of images.

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