About This Project
Golden-winged Warblers are one of North America's fastest declining forest bird species. To reverse this decline, it is important to conserve the breeding (US/Canada) and winter (Latin America) habitats of this migratory songbird. We will identify the habitats used by Golden-wings on their annual, migratory journey so that we can make better conservation decisions to help this imperiled songbird. Watch our video to learn more. We ask that you join the journey!
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
Young forest habitat in North America is important for many wildlife species, including Golden-winged Warblers. They depend on the dense shrubby cover that young forests provide. As young forest habitat declines so do the wildlife species that live there, like Golden-winged Warbler. Tropical forests (used by Golden-wings in winter) and their wildlife are also declining due to deforestation and degradation. To conserve declining forests, managers can use charismatic wildlife species, like Golden-wings, as forest conservation ambassadors. The Golden-wing story can encourage and inform effective conservation strategies. We want to know which forest habitats and specific locations are of highest conservation priority based on the Golden-wing's journey.
What is the significance of this project?
Geolocator technology has only recently become lightweight enough to be used on songbirds as small as 9 grams. This technology will allow us to track the movement of individual Golden-winged Warblers during a year of their life. Click here to see how geolocator data can help Golden-winged Warbler conservation. This information will help us understand a year of broad-scale habitat use by these birds, specifically identifying important migratory stopover and wintering habitats. By using this bird as an ambassador for forests and associated wildlife, we can understand habitat needs and create effective and efficient forest conservation strategies that will maximize the positive impact of limited conservation funds and manpower.
What are the goals of the project?
We aim to identify forest areas for conservation based on habitat use during the annual journey of Golden-winged Warblers. This project started in 2016 by capturing 28 male Golden-wings on their breeding territories in Wisconsin and fitting them with geolocators, essentially a small back-pack with leg-loop harnesses. In 2017 we must recapture the Golden-wings and recover their geolocators to download the logged migratory route data. Using this data and aerial imagery, we will describe the broad- scale habitat used by these birds. This will help identify forests of greatest conservation need for Golden-wings. By following the habitat choices of these birds over a year, they will show us how to prioritize forest conservation to benefit wildlife.
Light-level geolocators track long-distance animal movements and can be used to determine broad-scale habitat use. These devices are deployed for a year. The birds must be relocated and recaptured to remove their geolocators and retrieve the data. Twenty-eight geolocators were deployed on Golden-winged Warblers breeding in Wisconsin in 2016. In order to retrieve all of the geolocators, I will be driving ~80 miles a day to and from study sites between May 15 and July 1. I also need to live near my study sites at a field research station for $22/night. With these funds I will be able to retrieve the geolocators and learn about Golden-wing habitat needs so we can better direct conservation efforts.
Additional funds will be used to purchase and deploy 20 new geolocators in 2017 on Golden-wings to test the hypothesis that Golden-wings breeding in wet habitat areas in Wisconsin also rely on wet winter habitats.
Meet the Team
This project is only possible through the help of my wonderful volunteers. In 2016, 10 dedicated volunteers spent many hours in the field assisting with bird surveys, netting and banding Golden-winged warblers, and vegetation surveys. This project would not be possible without their wonderful support and dedication!
Hi! My name is Anna. I am a graduate student at the University of Maine working on my Master's degree. My thesis project focuses on bird response to young forest habitat management on private properties in Wisconsin, and how best to involve landowners in conservation and wildlife monitoring efforts. I have a B.S. in Wildlife Ecology and Management and Applied Ecology and Environmental Science from Michigan Technological University. I have been interested in birds since childhood and have experience working on bird and habitat research in Illinois, Hawaii, California, Michigan, Nevada, and Wisconsin.
In spring and summer of 2016, I started field work for my thesis by conducting bird and habitat surveys and interviewing landowners. I am excited to have the opportunity to conduct research with real world application to bird conservation, habitat management, and citizen science project creation. My favorite part about my research is sharing it with others! I can't help but smile when I have the opportunity to teach others about what I do and the natural world.
Golden-winged Warblers are fascinating birds! I began studying them in 1998 as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin. I've been fortunate to be involved in research, monitoring, habitat management, and conservation planning for this species for 20 years. My current research program at the University of Maine also includes American Woodcock habitat evaluation, woodcock migration ecology, development of indices for deer winter habitat, and Highland Guan biology and movement patterns in Nicaragua. I enjoy sharing my research with a wide range of audiences and hope you find this current project to be as interesting and exciting as I do. Please join us on our journey!
Nothing posted yet.
Global populations of Golden-winged Warblers have been in steep decline (-2.3% each year) for nearly 50 years. In other words, this population is now less than 40% of the numbers present in 1966. As a result, Golden-winged Warbler is listed as a species of high conservation need in all of the states where they breed and are being reviewed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. Many bird species require similar habitat and resources as Golden-winged Warblers. By protecting Golden-winged Warbler winter and breeding habitat, we will be providing important habitat for many other wildlife species as well.
This project is part of a collaboration with Audubon Vermont, Palisades Interstate Park Commission, Audubon New York, and Dr. Amber Roth. Through this collaboration geolocators were deployed on male Golden-winged Warblers in Michigan, New York, and Vermont, in addition to Wisconsin, in 2016. Data from all four states will help us understand the breeding-range-wide Golden-winged Warbler migratory journey. This work is very exciting and will improve and increase the conservation of this imperiled songbird throughout it's range. Watch the lab notes section for information on these parallel studies as geolocator data is recovered this summer.
Thank you to all the organizations and individuals who supported this research in 2016:
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
University of Maine
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Sustainable Forestry Initiative Implementation Committee
Natural Resource Foundation of Wisconsin
Ozaukee Washington Land Trust
Wisconsin Audubon Council, Inc. and associated Audubon chapters from across the state (Aldo Leopold, Chappee Rapids, Chequamegon, Winnebago, Northeast Wisconsin, Green-Rock, Hunt Hill)
Private Donors include Shirley Klapperich, Chris and Jude Ford, and John and Laurie Johnson
Geolocators donated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Indiana University of Pennsylvania (7) and Audubon Vermont (1)
- $820Total Donations
- $74.55Average Donation