Rusty blackbird (Euphagus carolinus). Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago. Conservation status: vulnerable. E. carolinus ranges widely across the boreal zone of North America from New England, through Canada to Alaska and winters widely across the south-eastern United States. The population was estimated at 2 million individuals based on data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey collected during the 1980s and 1990s. This figure is likely to be a considerable overestimate as the species continues to decline. Estimates of the global decline since 1950 vary between 85% and 99%. The reasons for this dramatic decline remain poorly understood.
As biologists describe new species and add to our understanding of the interrelated nature of life on Earth, a species becomes extinct every 20 minutes (100 to 1000 times the background extinction rate as seen in the fossil record). Collections in natural history museums play important roles in conservation, education and research. Most of that work and the associated specimens are not on public display in museumsÃ¢€š typically, less than five percent of specimens are exhibited.