One little, two little, three little warblers...
Okay, it’s actually four little warblers but who’s counting? Wood warblers are a family of little songbirds who make epic migratory flights each year, from southern US or even South America in the winter to Canada’s boreal forest in the summer, where they get dressed up in their breeding plumage and sing their little hearts out. F or example the Canada warbler (top left) migrates 3000 miles each year and spends just a couple of months on its breeding grounds before turning right around and heading back to its winter habitat in South America. Pretty impressive for a tiny ball of feathers!
Unfortunately, many of these tiny jewels depend on old growth forest for their breeding habitat, which is being logged and fragmented all across their range. The Canada warbler is now listed as a threatened species nationally because of large declines in their numbers. The Peace River Valley in particular is good habitat for these wee migrants, but is slated to be flooded by the Site C dam in the next few years to produce energy there is no demand for.
It breaks my heart to think of these tough little birds arriving at their ancestral breeding grounds only to find the trees are gone or worse, the whole area is under water. While a loss of a songbird doesn’t seem like a big deal to a lot of people, we depend on these birds in more ways than we know. We need to do better as a species to preserve habitat both in winter and summer ranges, or we face the loss of our warblers forever. Silent spring forests are something we ecologists dread, but there are tireless folk working to make a difference. For example, follow @y2y_initiative for a great demonstration of large scale, multinational conservation at work, and @thewcs for a focus on boreal birds.
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