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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler Dendroica pensylvanica Identification (10–11centimetres) A bird of scrubby second-growth areas and forest edges, the Chestnut-sided Warbler is one of the few Neotropical migrants that has benefited considerably from human activities. This warbler is distinguished by its yellow cap and chestnut sides. It is white below with a black eye stripe and mustache. Females are duller, with less extensive chestnut on their sides. Conservation Status The range of the Chestnut-sided Warbler dramatically expanded in the early 1800s with the clearing of forests and increased availability of early-successional scrub habitat. Once a rarely observed species in Ontario, the Chestnut-sided Warbler is now one of our most common and widespread warblers. Despite some declines since the 1960s, this species appears to be maintaining healthy populations. In Ontario, densities are highest in the southern shield where second growth deciduous forest is abundant. Breeding Biology The Chestnut-sided Warbler breeds throughout much of eastern Canada, from central Saskatchewan east to Nova Scotia and south through the northeastern United States. Birds select shrubby, predominantly deciduous, early-successional habitats such as second-growth woodlands, edges, and regenerating fields, clearcuts, and small forest openings. Nests are located in a Female (left) and Male (right) Chestnut-sided Warbler — Photo: Mark Peck small crotch of a shrub, less than two metres from the ground, and consist of grass, stems, bark, and spider web. In Ontario, birds breed in late May to late July, lay four white eggs with brown speckling, and raise a single brood. Diet The Chestnut-sided Warbler gleans insects from the bottom of leaves. It forages at low levels in shrubs (often raspberry thickets) and eats caterpillars, fly larvae, spiders, other insects, and some berries. Management Guidelines Forest management practices that create openings where earlysuccessional habitat regenerates, such as heavy partial harvest, will benefit the Chestnut-sided Warbler. This includes shelterwood, group selection, and diameter limits. It is absent from mature forests or recent clearcuts, where shrubby, edge habitat is absent. How to Find The Chestnut-sided Warbler can typically be found low in shrubby forest patches and forest edges. Be sure to listen for its loud, emphatic “pleased-to- MEETCHA” song. Did you know? • The Chestnut-sided Warbler has two basic song types. The first includes simple songs with accented endings (“pleased pleased pleased-to-MEETCHA”). This song appears to attract or keep in contact with females. The other song type involves more complex songs with unaccented endings. These are used mainly in territory defense against other males. Males that sing only unaccented songs are less successful at securing mates than males that sing both songs. • Chestnut-sided Warblers join mixed flocks with local tropical birds on their wintering grounds in Central America. These flocks appear to consist of the same individuals from one year to the next. 124 Bird Species Accounts

Cerulean Warbler Dendroica cerulea Female Cerulean Warbler — Photo: Greg Lavaty Identification (11.5 centimetres) The Cerulean Warbler breeds in mature, deciduous forests in association with tall, large diameter trees. Males are sky blue above and white below with a thin blue-black necklace and dark streaked sides. Females are drab blue-green above, whitish below with a pale yellowish eyebrow. Both sexes have two prominent white wing bars and white tail spots. Conservation Status This area-sensitive species is of great conservation concern because of its small range and population size. It has declined an alarming 70 percent throughout its range since 1966 (four percent per year), due to loss and fragmentation of mature forest habitat, and loss of appropriate vegetation structure and composition. The Cerulean Warbler is listed as a species of Special Concern in Canada and the United States. Breeding Biology The Cerulean Warbler’s breeding range extends from the centraleast United States north to southern Ontario and extreme southern Quebec. It has a very patchy distribution within this range, breeding in uplands or wet bottomlands in mature or oldgrowth deciduous forest. Ceruleans have specific preferences for large, tall trees, open understorey, and a structurally diverse canopy with multiple vegetation layers. They typically build shallow woven cup nests, far out on a horizontal branch in the upper canopy. Females lay four grayish, greenish, or creamywhite eggs that are spotted or blotched with reddish and greyish brown. Only one brood is raised per season. Diet The Cerulean Warbler is insectivorous, typically foraging high in the canopy, hopping along small branches gleaning insects from leaves and twigs. Its diet is comprised mainly of caterpillars, spiders, bees, wasps, and weevils. Management Guidelines The Cerulean Warbler has become a symbol of healthy, mature deciduous forests. It is rather intolerant of intensive habitat disturbances, but does breed successfully in sites managed for maple syrup, and will tolerate selection and shelterwood harvests. Ceruleans benefit from the protection of old-growth or wilderness areas and management efforts that focus on the production of high quality timber, because they rely on tall, large diameter, full canopy trees. These practices allow for longer rotations, uneven-aged structure, vertical diversity, and tall canopies, while high-grading, diameter-limit cuts and even-aged systems that remove most or all the largest trees are unsuitable. Carefully applied group selection cuts may be a good tool, since Ceruleans not only associate with small canopy gaps and internal openings, they select for midtolerant trees like oak and hickory. How to Find Slap on your hiking boots and grab a good pair of binoculars if you want to find this tiny forest interior bird that spends most of its time in the canopy of mature stands. Listen for its distinctive rapid highpitched buzzy “zee zee zee zizizizi eeet” song that rises at the end. Did you know? Male Cerulean Warbler feeding nestlings — Photo: L. Walkinshaw/VIREO • The Cerulean Warbler migrates farther and sooner than other warbler species, arriving at breeding grounds up to two weeks earlier and returning to wintering grounds as early as August. • Over 60 percent of Cerulean wintering habitat in the South American Andes has been converted to crop land largely for sungrown coffee and coca. • The female Cerulean Warbler is known to drop vertically from the side of the nest with wings closed, only opening them when she is several metres below the nest, a behaviour known as bungeedropping. • When renesting after a failed nest, females often uses spider web from the old nest to start construction on the new nest. Fresh lining is gathered for the new nest, but spider web may be too valuable and time-consuming to waste. Bird Species Accounts 125

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