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Cerulean Warbler Conservation Award

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by Pat Leonard
Photograph by Tom Iraci/U.S. Forest Service

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology was recognized recently for its efforts to reverse the drastic decline of the Cerulean Warbler. With partner organizations in the El Grupo Cerúleo coalition, the Lab received the 2008 “Wings Across the Americas” International Cooperation Award from the U. S. Forest Service. El Grupo Cerúleo is a unique partnership that includes government, non-government, and academic institutions, and was created by the Cerulean Warbler Technical Group. To address the need for hard data about the warbler’s winter range in South America, the Lab and its partners launched the Priority Migrant eBird project in late 2006.

Lab ornithologist Sara Barker and El Grupo Cerúleo members developed Priority Migrant eBird at a Cerulean Warbler Summit in Ecuador in 2005, and with the help of the Lab’s Information Science group and the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service it became a reality.

The data from project participants are being used to create better winter range maps for Cerulean Warblers and will ultimately be used to develop guidelines for management, protection, and conservation carried out by South American organizations.

Cerulean Warbler number have dropped by an estimated 50 percent, according to the North American Landbird Conservation Plan issued by Partners in Flight. Loss of the mature forests used by the species is behind the decline. Despite these dire circumstances, the united effort of so many people across the Western Hemisphere may yet halt the downward spiral of this small blue bird.

To find out more about Priority Migrant eBird, visit www.ebird.org/primig.

Pat Leonard