Thursday, May 10, 2012

Cerulean Warbler

- _DSC0171 May 02, 2012 NIKON D7000
Katie Fallon
One of the day trips that I went on during my stay in West Virginia, at the New River Birding and Nature Festival, was to find a Cerulean Warbler.  Previously, during the week, I had listened to a talk by Katie Fallon, who wrote the book "Cerulean Blues", about her quest for this Songbird.  Cerulean's is one of the species of highest concern in the eastern United States, because the population has decreased 80% since the 1960’s.  The main reason, for the decline is the continuing loss of habitat of this beautiful bird, both here in the United States, and in it's wintering grounds in South America.  It breeds in forest with tall deciduous trees and open understory and winters in the areas of broad-leafed, evergreen forests.

- _DSC0170 May 02, 2012 NIKON D7000
Katie Talking to the Group
One of the reasons for the decline is the change in extracting coal from the regions where the Cerulean Warbler breeds.  This change is mountain top removal coal mining, and it may permanently destroy the preferred breeding habitat of the Cerulean Warbler.  A quote from the book, which is a quote from the US Fish and Wildlife Service, "in the core.  Although cerulean warblers range, Kentucky and West Virginia,… Mountaintop coal mining and valley fill operations through 2012 are expected to remove 567,000 hectares (an area roughly the size of Delaware) of suitable forest habitat… The total cumulative forest loss from these activities will likely eliminate breeding habitat for 10 to 20% of the total cerulean Warbler population currently occurring within that core area."
- _DSC0154 May 02, 2012 NIKON D7000
Cerulean Warbler in the canopy
Early in the morning, after breakfast, the small group of us joined Katie and the guides and in four-wheel drive vehicles climbed to the top of Cotton Hill, over a rough gravel road.  However, we arrived at the top, and when we left the car, right over our heads , was a Cerulean Warbler singing.  During the whole trip.  I was able to get some photographs of the Cerulean.  Our Group also Identified about 64 different species of birds during this trip.

Cerulean, are identified by the following: "Adult males have pale cerulean blue upper parts and white under parts with a black necklace across the breast; they also have black streaks on the back and flanks. Females and immature birds have greyer or greenish upper parts, a pale stripe over the eye, and no streaking on the back and no necklace. All of these birds, regardless of their age, have wing bars and a thin pointed bill."
- _DSC0202 May 02, 2012 NIKON D7000
Cerulean Warbler - male
- _DSC0256-Edit May 02, 2012 NIKON D7000
Cerulean Warbler - female

We also observed a pair of cerulean's mating and gathering their food.
I recommend Katie Fallon's book "Cerulean Blues", which is her personal search for a vanishing songbird.  It is available from