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Endemic Stronghold Conserved

Cerulean Warbler reserve protects Colombian endemics

Part of a newly-identified Colombian IBA, also home to at least two Critically Endangered and three Endangered species, is to be protected as a reserve for wintering Cerulean Warblers Dendroica cerulean, one of the most threatened Neotropical migrants.

Fundacion ProAves and the American Bird Conservancy (ABC) have announced the purchase of land including 500 acres of subtropical forest in the Rio Chucuri Basin of Santander, within the Serrania de los Yariguies IBA. The area was essentially unexplored ornithologically before 2003, when ProAves led an expedition to the Serrania de los Yariguies. The team observed and collected reports of previously unknown populations of the globally threatened Gorgeted Wood-quail Odontophorus strophium and Mountain Grackle Macroagelaius subalaris; and identified potential primary forest habitat for Blue-billed Currasow Crax alberti. ProAves estimates that the population of Gorgeted Wood-Quails in Serrania de los Yariguies may be in excess of 250 birds, which would make the area the global stronghold for the species. Serrania de los Yariguies is one of 14 Colombian IBAs which have been identified as wintering grounds for the Cerulean Warbler. The species also winters at 14 IBAs in Venzuala, and two in Ecuador. These sites are all described in detail in Important Bird Areas in the Tropical Andes, published in August 2005 by BirdLife International and Conservation International."This shows that IBAs are excellent tools to protect Neotropical migratory birds, as well as threatened endemic species." Said Kerem Boyla, co-editor IBAs in the Tropical Andes.

The Cerulean Warbler breeds from Quebec and Ontario (Canada), east to Nebraska and south to northern Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia (USA). It migrates south through the south-eastern USA and Caribbean, before spending its winter mainly east of the Andes, in eastern Ecuador, eastern Peru and perhaps northern Bolivia. Breeding Bird Survey results show declines equating to 26% per decade over the period 1980-2002, but longer-term declines are even more severe – and largely due to habitat degradation. As a result it is classified by BirdLife as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

BirdLife International and Conservation International, with support from the Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), have embarked on a project to identify, map, conserve and monitor Important Bird Areas (IBAs) supporting Neotropical migrants, endemic and globally threatened bird species, and other globally important taxa.

4th July 2014