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Migratory Birds

Cerulean Warbler: Saving Declining Bird Species

Your support will help to protect bird species, like the cerulean warbler, throughout the Americas.

Cerulean Warbler: Saving Declining Bird Species

The Cerulean Warbler is a species of conservation concern because of persistent and widespread population declines, its relatively small global population size, and the potential effects of land management practices on its population size. It has been listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and has been petitioned for listing as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Cerulean Warblers are most often associated with forests that are also critical for sustaining populations of a host of other area-sensitive, forest-interior birds, and/or birds of high conservation concern. This makes the habitat of Cerulean Warblers of even greater interest to the Conservancy.

Declining to extinction?

Population trend information from the North American Breeding Bird Survey shows a decline of 3% per year, with a total decline of 66% since 1966. This is one of the highest rates of decline of any species of songbird from eastern North America. Despite the fact that the species is relatively widespread, declines are persistent in the core of the range.

This alarming decline may be the result of forest composition and structure, factors on the wintering grounds or during migration or other environmental or climatic changes. Cerulean Warblers breed throughout much of eastern North America but are most abundant in the central Appalachian Mountains.

The Conservancy in Action

The Conservancy's Migratory Bird Program, in conjunction with our programs in South America, is working closely with the Cerulean Warbler Technical Group and numerous partners in North, Central, and South America to conduct research and implement conservation strategies for the Cerulean Warbler.

Research activities underway include:

  • Surveys in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia to verify the Warbler's occurrence at known sites and to find new sites;
  • Production, testing, and refinement of a predictive distribution model for the Warbler in its wintering range;
  • Field work to determine important spring migration stopover areas in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico; and
  • Detailed investigations of wintering Cerulean Warbler ecology and behavior.

The Conservancy uses the predictive model to help develop goals and target conservation resources in the wintering range. The Migratory Bird Program researches the Cerulean Warbler's habitat use, food preferences and movements to accomplish effective and long-term conservation.

The Cerulean Warbler is a flagship species for conservation due to its attractiveness, high conservation concern and life history. The Cerulean Warbler often inhabits areas that are of global importance for conservation, yet are highly threatened. Therefore, conserving the Cerulean Warbler is not only about a shared migratory species, but also the lives of local peoples who will determine its future.

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