Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Cerulean Warbler

Erika and I found several singing Cerulean Warblers on 10 May 2011 in the eastern unit of the Rice County Wilderness Park.  This warbler is "uncommon, local and declining" in Minnesota (Eckert).  They are difficult to see, as they usually sing from the tops of mature deciduous forests.  Occasionally, like today, they are found lower in the forest.  Due to their treetop habitat, little is known about their breeding behavior.

Cerulean Warblers breed in scattered locations in Eastern North America.  They winter along the Andes from Columbia through Bolivia.  This species' numbers are cause for concern.  Some studies indicate a 50% decline in population during the last 40 years, and numbers have declined even since 1900.  Factors that may be contributing to this dire situation include loss of mature deciduous forest, fragmentation of these forests for human development, current early harvesting and shorter rotation of timber stands, loss of inmportant trees to disease (oaks, sycamores, and elms), tropical deforestation in their winter range, and loss of migratory stopover habitat, especially near the Gulf Coast (Hamel 2000).

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