WatchList Species Account for Blue-winged Warbler
(Vermivora pinus)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Photo: Peter LaTourrette /birdphotography.com
Photo: Peter LaTourrette, www.birdphotography.com

Prior to European arrival, the Blue-winged Warbler’s primary range was the Ozark Mountains east through the savannas of Tennessee and Kentucky. As European settlers cleared the land, the cut forests and abandoned fields succeeded to habitats favoring this shrubland warbler, and populations increased and moved gradually northward and eastward into its present range, from southeastern Minnesota south to northern Arkansas and east to southern Canada, Pennsylvania, New York, and southern New England.

 

As shrubland succeeded to forest and urban sprawl took up more of the landscape, the Blue-winged has declined in numbers throughout its present range; no estimates for population size are available. The species hybridizes with and replaces the closely-related Golden-winged Warbler where the ranges overlap, resulting in the more common Brewster’s Warbler and less common Lawrence’s Warbler. It is vulnerable to cowbird parasitism. Its winter range is humid evergreen and semi-deciduous forests on the Caribbean slope from Mexico to Panama.

 

Among the threats to the species, besides urban sprawl and succession of shrubland to forest, are changes in land use in the Central American wintering range, in particular, deforestation for agricultural purposes such as growing of sun coffee. On some public lands prescribed burning in areas of scrub oak-pine barren has been used to preserve breeding habitat for this warbler.