Favors open habitat near water, with a preference for nesting in tall shrubs (Spindler and Kessel 1980). Also prefers moist woodland (primarily coniferous), bushy bogs, and wooded edges of water courses (Spindler and Kessel 1980). May be found along streams and rivers and at associated sloughs and wetlands, around the margins of taiga ponds, beaver ponds, lakes and adjacent marshes, and in brackish estuarine meadows (UAM unpubl. data in Hannah 2004). May be disturbance-dependent, selecting habitats that have reverted to early- to mid-successional stages due to fire, windthrow, and beaver activity (Spindler 1976, Ellison 1990). Nests in conifers such as black spruce (Picea mariana) and other stunted muskeg trees (Bent 1958, AOU 1983). Considered an ecological specialist compared to other blackbird species, which are largely generalists; more averse to unfamiliar conditions (neophobic) than other blackbirds (Lewis 1931, Cade 1951, Hannah 2004).
AOU. 1983. Check-list of North American birds. 6th ed.American Ornithologists’ Union, Washington D. C.
Bent, A.C. 1958. Life histories of North American blackbirds, orioles, tanagers, and their allies. U.S. National Museum Bulletin 211. Washington, DC.
Cade, T. 1951. Food of the Peregrine Falcon, Falco peregrinus, in Interior Alaska. Auk 68:373-374.
Ellison, W.G. 1990. The status and habitat of the Rusty Blackbird in Caledonia and Essex counties. Cooperative project with the Nongame and Natural Heritage Program, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, Woodstock, VT.
Hannah, K. C. 2004. Status review and conservation plan for the Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) in Alaska, Draft Report. Alaska Bird Observatory, Fairbanks, Alaska.
Lewis, J. B. 1931. Behaviour of Rusty Blackbird. Auk 48:125-126.
Spindler, M.A. 1976. Ecological survey of the birds, mammals and vegetation of Fairbanks Wildlife Management Area. M.S. thesis. Univ. of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK. 258 p.
Spindler, M. A. and B. A. Kessel. 1980. Avian populations and habitat use in interior Alaska taiga. Syesis 13:61-104.