Status of the cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea) in Northern Alabama, 1999-2004
The cerulean warbler (Dendroica cerulea) is a Neotropic-Nearctic migratory passerine that breeds in eastern North America and winters in northwestern South America (Dunn and Garrett 1997, Hamel 2000a, 2000b). The northern two-thirds of Alabama historically represented the southernmost extension of the Cerulean Warbler's breeding range, where they were recorded in 1887 (Holt 1921) and later described as moderately common in the 1920s (Howell 1928). In mid-1970s. Imhof (1976) states that they were most numerous toward the western half of the state and a locally common summer resident south to the "Fall Line", the boundary separating the Appalachian foothills and Coastal Plain. Today, Cerulean warblers are rarely encountered in Alabama during the breeding season and, as a result, their current statusand distribution are poorly understood. Furthermore, the Cerulean Warbler is reportedly experiencing the most precipitous population decline of any warbler species in the United States (Hamel 2000b). In 2002, it was designated as a Priority 1 species (Highest conservation Concern) in Alabama based on its population trends, low relative abundance, patchy distribution, dependence on mature, contiguous forests and continual threats of habitat disturbance and destruction (Soehren 2004a).