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Cerulean Warbler

Image of Cerulean Warbler








The Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulean) is a migratory songbird that breeds in mature deciduous forests in eastern North America. Cerulean Warblers require heavily forested landscapes for nesting and brood rearing. Breeding primarily occurs on ridge tops and steep slopes within the species’ Appalachian breeding range. Cerulean Warblers are generally associated with oak-dominated forests that contain gaps in the forest canopy. The loss of structurally complex forests has contributed to an average decline of 3.02 percent per year of Cerulean Warblers in the Appalachians from 1966-2012, making it one of the steepest rates of decline of all North American warblers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has designated the Cerulean Warbler as a species of national conservation concern.

In order to improve Cerulean Warbler habitat, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) has approved a five-year Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP) project, the Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement Project, with the American Bird Conservancy, working with the Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture. The partnership will encourage natural resources conservation by providing technical and financial assistance to private, non-industrial forestland owners. Through this partnership, up to $8 Million will be invested in conservation efforts on privately owned lands throughout West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Ohio, and Maryland.

Goals / Objectives

The Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement Project will allow partners to work with private landowners across the region to enhance approximately 12,500 acres of forest habitat on private lands for cerulean warblers. Success will be evaluated by population response at treated sites. In addition, approximately 1,000 acres of reclaimed mine lands across the region will also be restored to a biodiverse forest, including planting blight-resistant American Chestnut trees. In Pennsylvania, the project will focus on approximately 7,000 acres of forest habitat improvements for Cerulean Warblers and 150 acres of mine land reclamation.  

Core Practices

315 Herbaceous Weed Control
612 Tree/Shrub Establishment
666 Forest Stand Improvement

Outcomes and Impacts

The project will increase and improve habitat. The result will be an expansion of Appalachian breeding habitat and an increase in reproducing Cerulean Warbler populations, decreasing the potential for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

In addition, the conservation practices that create or enhance Cerulean Warbler habitat also help in recovering historically mismanaged forests. Active forest management, including controlling competing and invasive plants, thinning, and forest stand improvement, can promote the mix of cover and tree species needed for wildlife to thrive. Removing undesirable plants improves forest health by providing more sunlight, water, and nutrients to higher-value and unique species. Management practices that enhance Cerulean Warbler habitat also improve forest regeneration, tree growth rates, and acorn production in oaks. The increased food and cover means better habitat for deer, turkey, and many non-game species. As such, the Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement Project can provide forest landowners with the opportunity to assist with the recovery of an imperiled species while also improving their forests long-term economic potential.

Apply for Financial Assistance

Click here to learn how to apply for financial assistance.  

More Information

Additional information may be found here about the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program .  

You can contact your local USDA Service Center for more information about financial and technical assistance and to inquire about eligibility.

External Links

Cerulean Warbler Forest Enhancement Program Flyer
Cerulean Warbler Forest Enhancement Program Step-by-Step Guide
Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture – Cerulean Warbler Appalachian Forestland Enhancement Project
American Bird Conservancy - Cerulean Warbler

Program Contacts
Peter Hoagland
State Forester
(717) 237-2225

Jim Gillis
State Biologist
(717) 237-2219