Saving the Cerulean Warbler
Inspired by the book shown below, CERULEAN BLUES, and by the memory of what a thrill it was to see this beautiful songbird for the first time, I decided to put together an article on some of the efforts (by no means comprehensive - more like a "quick peek") to save "North America's fastest declining neotropical migrant songbird" - the Cerulean Warbler. As you will see, there are people at work in both North and South America saving this vanishing songbird.
By Katie Fallon
Taking the reader from the mountains of Appalachia to a coffee plantation near Bogotá, Colombia, this investigation into the plight of the cerulean warbler—a tiny migratory songbird—describes its struggle to survive in ever-shrinking bands of suitable habitat. This elusive creature—a favorite among bird watchers and the fastest-declining warbler species in the United States—has lost three percent of its total population each year since 1966. This precipitous decline means that today there are 80 percent fewer ceruleans than 40 years ago, and their numbers continue to drop because of threats including deforestation, global warming, and mountaintop-removal coal mining. With scientific rigor and a sense of wonder, Fallon charts their path across more than 2000 miles and shows how the fate of a creature weighing less than an ounce is vitally linked to that of our own.
The Cerulean Warbler was formerly one of the most abundant breeding warblers in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys, but is now one of the country’s most imperiled migrant songbirds. Overall, Cerulean Warbler numbers have plummeted by almost 70% since 1966. This elusive bird winters in the northern Andes CW Conservation Corridor breeds from the Great Lakes region to Georgia, and west from Wisconsin to Louisiana, with particular concentrations in the Appalachians and Central Hardwoods region. Both its breeding and wintering habitat are being lost. (Source: American Bird Conservancy (ABC) website)
Video: Cerulean Warbler
Efforts in the United States
Here is a video on a study being conducted in the region of the United States that has the highest population of breeding Cerulean Warblers in the world.
Video: University of Tennessee cerulean warblers study (USA)
Efforts in South America
(March 1, 2011) American Bird Conservancy and Fundación ProAves, the leading bird conservation organizations in the U.S. and Colombia respectively, have secured thirteen new conservation easements in Colombia with private landowners that will protect important habitat for the Cerulean Warbler – North America's fastest declining neotropical migrant songbird.
“The local communities have been very receptive to the conservation needs of this bird. Implementing a conservation easement is not terribly difficult once we show the local landowners how they can practice conservation and still make a living from the land,” said Heidy Valle, who runs the easement program with ProAves.
Saving this bird is going to require a concerted and continuous effort in both North and South America,” said Benjamin Skolnik, who manages ABC’s Colombian projects.
(Source: American Bird Conservancy website)
The Cerulean Warbler Conservation Corridor comprises three private reserves – Pauxi Pauxi Reserve (Helmeted Curassow), Cerulean Warbler Reserve (Gorgeted Wood-Quail) and Chicamocha Reserve (Niceforo’s Wren), all owned and operated by ABC’s Colombian partner Fundación ProAves. The reserves were established to protect not only key wintering habitat for migrant songbirds, but also the last remaining forests for species recognized by the Alliance for Zero Extinction. ABC is creating a forested corridor between these reserves on privately owned farmland through a suite of conservation tools, including land acquisition, conservation easements, and shade coffee production. Another key component is to link conservation efforts here to the important work being done in the United States.
(Source : ABC website)
Video: Birding paradise in the Cerulean Warbler Bird Reserve (South America)