Cerulean warbler

Dendroica cerúlea

SUBFAMILY

Parulinae

TAXONOMY

Dendroica cerúlea Wilson, 1810, Hispaniola. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Paruline d'azur; German: Pappelwaldsanger; Spanish: Reinita Cerúlea.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

A blue, black, and white bird that reaches 4-5 in (10.2-12.7 cm) long. Its upperparts are blue to blue-gray with a few black

streaks, and the underparts are mostly white. The wings feature two white bars. The female looks similar, but substitutes a soft olive for the blue plumage, and lacks the black neck ring the males have.

DISTRIBUTION

Breeds mostly in the eastern half of the United States, north into the southernmost points in Ontario, south to North Carolina, and southwest to Louisiana. Winters primarily in rainforests of northern South America.

HABITAT

Deciduous forests, particularly among maples, elms, and black ash.

BEHAVIOR

These birds remain among the treetops most of the time, much to the chagrin of birders. They are always on the move, seldom staying still for more than a few minutes before moving to another perch. The birds sing throughout the day.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Insects.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

The cup-shaped, neat nest, which the bird builds high up in the trees, consists mostly of moss and lichens. The white to greenish white, speckled eggs usually number four, and they hatch in about two weeks.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Although not threatened under IUCN criteria, cerulean warbler populations have declined by as much as 70% over the last three decades. The primary cause appears to be habitat destruction in both their breeding and wintering grounds. Efforts are currently under way to protect their northern and southern habitats.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS

They have some economic benefit, as they bring to the northern woods birders who are seeking a challenge in bird observation. ♦

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