The lovely cerulean warbler flaunts a delicate palette of blues as it flits through our state’s forests. This little songbird is undergoing one of the birding world’s steepest declines due to loss of habitat. Its current population is estimated at one-fifth of what it was forty years ago, and the species continues to face a 4% decline each year. A cerulean warbler banded by the museum was found in Costa Rica, which is the only recapture of this species away from its banding location recorded to date in the federal bird banding database.
Cerulean warblers rely on large tracts of woodland with mature trees and open forest floors, and used to be abundant in the Ohio valley. As these habitats disappear from the northeast due to development and fragmentation, so, too, do their residents.
These dainty birds are also suffering major habitat loss in their South American wintering grounds, where “shade-grown” crop techniques are being replaced by aggressive agricultural practices that require the clearing of trees. The tracts of mature forest on the 2,200 protected acres surrounding the banding station are a critical resource for habitat-challenged species such as the cerulean warbler.
Photo: Robert Royse