Overview

Brief Summary

Setophaga caerulescens

A medium-sized (5-5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the male Black-throated Blue Warbler is most easily identified by its bluish-gray head and back, black throat, and white breast. Female Black-throated Blue Warblers are pale brownish-gray overall with a faint white eye-stripes. The male Black-throated Blue Warbler may be distinguished from the related Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga ceruleaa) by that species’ lighter blue coloration and pale throat, whereas the female Black-throated Blue Warbler may be distinguished from the female Cerulean Warbler by that species’ greener body and paler breast. The Black-throated Blue Warbler breeds a limited area of southern Canada and portions of the eastern United States, mainly in the interior northeast and upper Midwest. Smaller numbers breed at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains as far south as northern Georgia. In winter, Black-throated Blue Warblers may be found in southern Florida, the West Indies, southern Mexico, and on the Caribbean the coast of northern Central America. Black-throated Blue Warblers primarily breed in deciduous or mixed deciduous and evergreen forests, preferring dense forest to more open woodland. In winter and on migration, this species is primarily found in humid tropical forests. Black-throated Blue Warblers primarily eat small invertebrates, including insects and spiders, but this species may also eat seeds and berries in winter. In appropriate habitat, Black-throated Blue Warblers may be observed foraging for insects on leaves, twigs, and branches in the lower canopy. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a buzzing “zur zur zur zreee. ” Black-throated Blue Warblers are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least concern

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Distribution

Black-throated blue warblers are found in northeastern North America in the summer, breeding season. They are found from the northern Great Lakes region east to the Canadian maritime provinces, throughout New England, and south through the Appalachian mountains. In winter they are found in southernmost Florida, the Antilles south to Trinidad, and the coastal Yucatan peninsula, from Mexico and Belize to Honduras.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: eastern Saskatchewan and southeastern Manitoba, from southwestern and central Ontario to Nova Scotia, south to northeastern Minnesota, central Michigan, southern Ontario, northeastern Ohio, in Appalachians from West Virginia to northern Georgia, New Jersey, and southern New England (Holmes 1994, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: almost exclusively in Greater Antilles on Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico; also in the Bahamas, Lesser Antilles to Trinidad, and the Caribbean coasts of the Yucatan, Belize, and Honduras; rare in southern Florida, northern Colombia, and northern Venezuela (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Holmes 1994, AOU 1998).

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Geographic Range

Black-throated blue warblers are found in northeastern North America in the summer, breeding season. They are found from the northern Great Lakes region east to the Canadian maritime provinces, throughout New England, and south through the Appalachian mountains. In winter they are found in southernmost Florida, the Antilles south to Trinidad, and the coastal Yucatan peninsula, from Mexico and Belize to Honduras.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Black-throated blue warblers are about 13 cm long and from 9 to 10 g. Males and females have different plumages. Males have dark blue backs and black faces, throats, and sides. Their bellies and breasts are white. Females are olive green with buffy yellow throat, breast, and bellies. Females have a buffy eye stripe, a white semicircle below the eye, and a small white wing spot. Immature males have a greenish tinge to their dorsal feathers. They have black legs, feet, and bills, but they begin life with flesh-colored legs, feet, and bills.

Range mass: 9 to 10 g.

Average length: 13 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

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Physical Description

Black-throated blue warblers are about 13 cm long and from 9 to 10 g. Males and females have different color patterns. Males have dark blue backs and black faces, throats, and sides. Their bellies and breasts are white. Females are olive green with buffy yellow throat, breast, and bellies. Females have a buffy eye stripe, a white semicircle below the eye, and a small white wing spot. Immature males have a greenish tinge to the feathers on their back. They have black legs, feet, and bills.

Range mass: 9 to 10 g.

Average length: 13 cm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes colored or patterned differently

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Size

Length: 13 cm

Weight: 11 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Black-throated blue warblers are found in tracts of undisturbed deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests in their breeding range. Forests they occur in include those with maples (Acer), birches (Betula), beeches (Fagus grandifolia), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), spruce (Picea), and fir (Abies). The elevational range of these forests varies throughout the region. They prefer forests with a dense, shrubby understory. They migrate along woodlands and woodland fragments, including riparian forests. In winter they are found in tropical forests, including secondary forest, plantations, and disturbed forest fragments.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: BREEDING: Understory of deciduous and mixed woodland, second growth, partially cleared forest. In New Hampshire, used shrubs for both nesting and foraging, but nest-site requirements appeared to be most important in determining habitat selection (Steele 1993). Nests in small tree, sapling, or shrub in dense undergrowth (e.g., hobblebush, mountain laurel, rhododendron), within about a meter of the ground.

NON-BREEDING: In migration in other forest types, open woodland, and scrub. In winter usually in dense forests in mountainous interiors of large islands, also in rich lowland forest (Jamaica, Lack 1976); in mature forest and shrubby second growth in Puerto Rico (Wunderle 1995).

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Black-throated blue warblers are found mainly in areas of undisturbed deciduous and mixed-deciduous forests in their breeding range. They prefer forests with a dense, shrubby understory. In winter they are found in tropical forests, including secondary forest, plantations, and disturbed forest fragments.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; rainforest

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Begins arriving on winter grounds in numbers in September; most leave by beginning of May. Arrives in Jamaica usually early to mid-October (Holmes et al. 1989).

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Trophic Strategy

Black-throated blue warblers are mainly insectivorous during the breeding season and supplement their insect diet with fruits during the winter. In the breeding range, these warblers eat mainly beetles, caterpillars, butterflies and moths, flies, bugs, and spiders. In the winter they eat as much as 95% insects, but supplement their diet with berries, other fruits, flower nectar, and honeydew excretions from scale insects. Black-throated blue warblers forage by themselves from 22 to 70% of daylight hours, depending on the season and their energy requirements. Females forage more during nest-building and the weeks leading up to egg laying, up to 70% of daylight hours. Males generally forage for 30-32% of daylight hours, but forage for an additional 20% when they are singing to defend nesting territories. They forage in undergrowth shrubs and forest canopy layers, taking most of their prey from leaves and bark.

Animal Foods: body fluids; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: fruit; nectar

Primary Diet: carnivore (Insectivore )

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Comments: Eats insects, also seeds and fruits (Terres 1980). Forages among understory shrubs, ferns, and herbs and in forest midstory. In New Hampshire, foraging males over-utilized sparse foliage between 3-9 m in relation to its relative availability; showed no consistent selection of dense shrubs (Steele 1993). In Jamaica in winter, obtains food from broad thick leaves of forest trees, twigs, ground, and air (Lack 1976).

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Food Habits

Black-throated blue warblers eat mainly insects, but they will eat some fruits during the winter. They eat mainly Coleoptera, Lepidoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera, Hemiptera, and Araneae. Black-throated blue warblers forage by themselves among leaves and on branches. They take most of their prey from leaves and bark.

Animal Foods: body fluids; insects; terrestrial non-insect arthropods

Plant Foods: fruit; nectar

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Associations

Black-throated blue warblers are important predators of insects in their forest habitats. They may also help to disperse seeds of the fruits they eat. There are few reported parasites in black-throated blue warblers. Only 2 nesting records indicate parasitism: bot flies (Oestridae) in one and parasitic fly larvae (Calliphoridae) in another. Brown-headed cowbirds will parasitize the nests of black-throated blue warblers, especially in areas of disturbed forest. If parasitized, they can successfully raise a cowbird young about 60% of the time.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

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Black-throated blue warbler adults are preyed on by birds of prey, such as Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperi). Eggs and nestlings are taken by a wide variety of nest predators, including sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter striatus), blue jays (Cyanocitta cristata), red squirrels (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus), eastern chipmunks (Tamias striatus), martens (Martes americana), fishers (Martes pennanti), flying squirrels (Glaucomys), raccoons (Procyon lotor), black bears (Ursus americanus), and garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis). Black-throated blue warblers will mob predators and perform broken-wing displays to distract them. Parents give a high-pitched warning call when they see raptors and will respond to the warning calls of other birds.

Known Predators:

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Ecosystem Roles

Black-throated blue warblers are important predators of insects in their forest habitats. They may also help to disperse seeds of the fruits they eat. There are few reported parasites in black-throated blue warblers. Brown-headed cowbirds will lay their eggs in the nests of black-throated blue warblers, especially in areas of disturbed forest.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • bot flies (Oestridae)
  • parasitic fly larvae (Calliphoridae)
  • brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus_ater)

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Predation

Black-throated blue warbler adults are preyed on by birds of prey, such as Accipiter cooperi. Eggs and nestlings are taken by a wide variety of nest predators, including Accipiter striatus, Cyanocitta cristata, Tamiasciurus hudsonicus, Tamias striatus, Martes americana, Martes pennanti, Glaucomys, Procyon lotor, Ursus americanus, and Thamnophis sirtalis. Black-throated blue warblers will mob predators and perform broken-wing displays to distract them.

Known Predators:

  • Cooper's hawks (Accipiter_cooperi)
  • sharp-shinned hawks (Accipiter_striatus)
  • blue jays (Cyanocitta_cristata)
  • red squirrels (Tamiasciurus_hudsonicus)
  • eastern chipmunks (Tamias_striatus)
  • martens (Martes_americana)
  • fishers (Martes_pennanti)
  • flying squirrels (Glaucomys)
  • raccoons (Procyon_lotor)
  • black bears (Ursus_americanus)
  • garter snakes (Thamnophis_sirtalis)

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Known predators

Dendroica caerulescens is prey of:
Diptera
Secernentia nematodes

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Known prey organisms

Dendroica caerulescens preys on:
Araneae
Hemiptera
Coleoptera
Diptera
Hymenoptera
Formicidae
Auchenorrhyncha
Sternorrhyncha
Lepidoptera
fruit

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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Global Abundance

100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: No estimates of total population size available. Measured densities on breeding grounds range from 0.2-0.9 pairs/hectare in New Hampshire hardwood forest (Sherry and Holmes 1985, Holmes et al. 1986, Steele 1992, Holmes 1994). Elsewhere, densities may be lower (Holmes 1994).

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General Ecology

Defends winter territory (Holmes et al. 1989); commonly returns to same territory in successive years. Density in winter in Jamaica 10-40 individuals per 10 ha; density in breeding areas in New Hampshire was 8-14 per 10 ha (Holmes et al. 1989). In maple forests in Quebec, density averaged 0.4 pairs per ha (Darveau et al. 1992).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Black-throated blue warblers use a series of calls and songs to communicate. Females vocalize sometimes, but males perform the majority of songs. Male songs vary with individual, but there are two main song types: 1) a song of 3 to 7 buzzing notes that trills upward at the end, sounding like "zee-zee-zee-zreeee," and 2) a song of 2 to 5 notes that descends at the end, sounding like "zee-zee-zhurrr." The first song type is the most commonly heard and varies substantially among males. Males use other kinds of songs as well, although their purposes and contexts are not well understood. Most songs are used during the breeding season, but there is some singing during migration and in winter. Males sing from perches in their home range.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Communication and Perception

Black-throated blue warblers use a series of calls and songs to communicate. Males do most of the singing. The two most common songs are: 1) a song of 3 to 7 buzzing notes that trills upward at the end, sounding like "zee-zee-zee-zreeee," and 2) a song of 2 to 5 notes that descends at the end, sounding like "zee-zee-zhurrr." Most songs are used during the breeding season, but there is some singing during migration and in winter. Males sing from perches in their home range.

Communication Channels: visual ; acoustic

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Life Expectancy

The oldest recorded black-throated blue warbler was at least 10 years old. There is some evidence that older individuals may have higher rates of survival, or higher site fidelity. Survival rates in the winter range were from 66 to 77% for females and males, respectively. Nestling mortality is largely from predation but nestlings also die from exposure during cold or rainy weather.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

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Lifespan/Longevity

The oldest recorded black-throated blue warbler was at least 10 years old.

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
10 (high) years.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 10 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Black-throated blue warblers are mainly monogamous, although rare males will maintain multiple female mates. Pairs are formed very soon after arrival at the breeding site. Mated pairs remain together for the breeding season through multiple broods or attempted broods. Males guard their mates closely and extra pair copulations are common in this warbler species. Approximately 34% of broods had nestlings that were not fathered by the territorial male.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous

Black-throated blue warblers start breeding in late May or early June and may lay second clutches in late June or early July. Females determine nest sites and build them out of strips of bark, cobwebs, and saliva. They then line them with softer materials, like moss, hair, pine needles, or shredded bark. Males may help gather nest materials. Females may build up to 5 nests in a season if she has to re-nest several times. Females lay from 2 to 5, usually 4, white, speckled eggs in a clutch. Females usually lay 1 egg each day until done and begin incubating when the last egg is laid. Most females lay multiple clutches in a year either after losing a clutch or as a second nesting attempt after a first, successfully raised brood. They have been reported laying up to 5 clutches, but 2 is more typical. Incubation takes 12 to 13 days and young begin to fly between 8 and 10 days after hatching. They leave the nest at that point, but remain nearby and are fed and protected by their parents for another 2 to 3 weeks after they have fledged. Black-throated blue warblers can breed in their first year after hatching, although males may be unsuccessful at attracting mates until their second year.

Breeding interval: Black-throated blue warblers breed seasonally and may attempt several clutches in a season, usually 2.

Breeding season: Black-throated blue warblers breed from late May through July or August.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 5.

Average eggs per season: 4.

Range time to hatching: 12 to 13 days.

Range fledging age: 8 to 10 days.

Range time to independence: 22 to 31 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 (low) years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 to 2 years.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Females incubate the eggs and brood hatchlings. Males may feed females while on the nest. Young hatch with their eyes closed and naked. Their eyes open at about 4 days old and they leave the nest at 8 to 10 days old, when they are just beginning to learn to fly. Males and females both feed nestlings and fledglings for up to 3 weeks after they fledge. Both parents protect their young from predators with alarm calls and distraction displays.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Eggs are laid mostly in May-June. Clutch size is three to five (usually four). Incubation, by female, lasts 12 days. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at ten days. In New Hampshire, 14-50% of females successfully fledged two or more broods (one female fledged three broods; Holmes et al. 1992). Natural or artificial food reductions in north-temperate habitats may periodically reduce reproductive effort/output (Rodenhouse and Holmes 1992).

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Black-throated blue warblers form bonds between males and females each breeding season. Sometimes males try to have two female mates. Pairs are formed very soon after arriving at the breeding site. Males guard their mates closely.

Mating System: monogamous ; polygynous

Black-throated blue warblers start breeding in late May and can breed into August. Females find nest sites and build nests out of strips of bark, cobwebs, and saliva. They line them with softer materials, like moss, hair, pine needles, or shredded bark. Females usually lay 4 white, speckled eggs in a clutch. Most females lay 2 clutches a year, either after losing a clutch to predators or after having successfully raised a brood. Incubation takes 12 to 13 days and young begin to fly between 8 and 10 days after hatching. They leave the nest at that point, but remain nearby and are fed and protected by their parents for another 2 to 3 weeks after they have begun flying. Black-throated blue warblers can breed in their first year after hatching.

Breeding interval: Black-throated blue warblers breed seasonally and may attempt several clutches in a season, usually 2.

Breeding season: Black-throated blue warblers breed from late May through July or August.

Range eggs per season: 2 to 5.

Average eggs per season: 4.

Range time to hatching: 12 to 13 days.

Range fledging age: 8 to 10 days.

Range time to independence: 22 to 31 days.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 (low) years.

Average age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 1 years.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 1 to 2 years.

Key Reproductive Features: seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate)

Females incubate the eggs and brood hatchlings. Males will feed females while they are on the nest. Young hatch with their eyes closed and naked. Their eyes open at about 4 days old and they leave the nest at 8 to 10 days old, when they are just beginning to learn to fly. Males and females both feed nestlings and fledglings for up to 3 weeks after they leave the nest. Both parents protect their young from predators with alarm calls and by trying to distract predators by pretending to have a broken wing.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Dendroica caerulescens

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 13 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNCCGGAATGGTAGGTACCGCCCTAAGCCTCCTCATTCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCTGGAGCCCTTCTAGGAGACGACCAAGTCTACAACGTAGTTGTCACGGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTTATGCCGATTATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCCCTAATAATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCGTTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCACCATCATTCCTTCTCCTCCTAGCATCCTCCACAGTTGAAGCAGGTGTAGGCACAGGCTGAACAGTATACCCCCCACTAGCTGGCAACTTGGCCCACGCCGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTCGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACCTAGCCGGTATTTCCTCAATCCTCGGGGCAATCAACTTCATTACAACAGCAATTAATATGAAACCTCCTGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCACTATTCGTCTGATCAGTCCTAATCACTGCAGTCCTCTTACTCCTTTCCCTTCCAGTTCTAGCTGCAGGAATCACAATGCTCCTCACAGACCGCAACCTTAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCTGCTGGAGGAGGAGATCCCGTCCTATATCAACATCTCTTCTGATTCTTTGGTCACCCAGAAGTTTACATCCTAATCCTC
-- end --

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Dendroica caerulescens

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 13
Specimens with Barcodes: 18
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Black-throated blue warblers have a large range and large populations without evidence of significant population declines. They are considered "least concern" by the IUCN. They are considered sensitive to forest fragmentation, preferring areas of forest over 100 hectares in size, but they are found in disturbed forests and secondary growth, provided there is a lush understory. Similarly, in their winter range, black-throated blue warblers are found in a variety of forests, including disturbed forests, orchards, and plantations, but populations may be negatively impacted by habitat destruction. They are also found dead as a result of collisions with man-made objects, such as television towers, during migration.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Widespread and relatively abundant. No evidence of large-scale declines.

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Black-throated blue warblers are not considered threatened currently. Although they may be sensitive to forest destruction and prefer large, undisturbed areas of forest, they seem to tolerate disturbed forests in their breeding and winter ranges.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

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Population

Population Trend
Increasing
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable to increase of 25%

Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS; Sauer et al. 2001) data show a survey-wide, significant population increase, 1980-2000, of +2.4% per year. Over the longer term (1966-2000), however, the annual increase is smaller and not statistically significant. For both time periods, however, data should be viewed with caution. Populations may have decreased in some areas at margins of breeding range, e.g., southern Appalachians and Minnesota-western Ontario, but sample size (number of BBS routes) not adequate in these areas for reliable statistical analysis.

In New Hampshire, no significant correlation (r=0.08) between population abundance at local (single site, Hubbard Brook) and state-wide scales during period 1969-1986, implying spatial heterogeneity in population trends, hypothesized due to spatial patchiness in availability of lepidopteran larvae food resources (Holmes and Sherry 1988).

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Threats

Degree of Threat: Low

Comments: Ranked by (Morton 1992) as "highly vulnerable" to continued tropical deforestation because of relatively small wintering range and social limitation (i.e., territoriality) of wintering population density. Reed (1992): given lowest possible conservation priority ranking (both breeding and wintering grounds), based on presumed low susceptibilty to extinction because of broad habitat specificity, wide geographic range, and existence of large populations.

PARASITISM: brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird negligible or infrequent (Holmes and Sherry 1988, (Holmes et al. 1992, Holmes 1994).

Schmidt and Whelan (1999): for American Robin (TURDUS MIGRATORIUS) and Wood Thrush (HYLOCICHLA MUSTELINA) nesting in shrub layer of mixed deciduous forest, nest predation rate higher for nests built in exotic shrubs species (e.g., LONICERA MAACKII and RHAMNUS CATHARTICA) than for nests in native plant species, including some of the same plant substrates favored by BTBW (e.g., VIBURNUM, saplings of native trees).

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Management

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Classified as area sensitive (i.e., occurs more frequently or at higher population density as forest size increases) by Freemark and Collins (1992).

Management Requirements: Experimental spraying of BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS in New Hampshire resulted in reduced caterpillar abundance and fewer warbler nesting attempts (Rodenhouse and Holmes 1992).

Management Research Needs: Test for deleterious effect of invasive exotic shrubs on nest success (Schmidt and Whelan 1999).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

There are no known adverse effects of black-throated blue warblers on humans. However, along with many other bird species, they carry West Nile virus.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease)

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There is no direct positive impact of black-throated blue warblers on humans. However, they are lovely and interesting members of native faunas and may attract bird watching interest.

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Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of black-throated blue warblers on humans. However, along with many other bird species, they carry West Nile virus.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease)

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Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

There is no direct positive impact of black-throated blue warblers on humans. However, they are lovely and interesting members of native faunas and may attract bird watching interest.

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Risks

Stewardship Overview: Key features of ecology and natural history relevant to management are: (1) during breeding season, area-sensitive and edge-avoiding (=forest interior); (2) requires forested habitats with dense, well-developed shrub layer, for both nest sites and foraging sites; (3) nest sites can be concentrated in just one or a few native shrub species; (4) breeding season diet predominantly lepidopteran and sawfly larvae ("caterpillars"); (5) winter range concentrated in Greater Antilles.

Management implications: (1) for breeding, preserve forest tracts which are large in size and which minimize edge (i.e., unfragmented and shape not narrow/extended); (2) may require active management to create or maintain dense understory/shrub strata, e.g., selective thinning to partially open canopy, or a logging rotation schedule which creates young second-growth forests (without shrub-suppressing mature canopy), and alleviation of overbrowsing by white-taled deer (e.g., by herd culling); (3) maintain preferred natve shrub species for nesting, possibly (?) requiring elimination of invasive exotic shrub species; (4) do not suppress outbreaks of defoliating caterpillars; (5) preserve habitat in the somewhat restricted winter range.

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Wikipedia

Black-throated blue warbler

The black-throated blue warbler (Setophaga caerulescens) is a small passerine bird of the New World warbler family. Its breeding ranges are located in the interior of deciduous and mixed coniferous forests in eastern North America. Over the cooler months, it migrates to islands in the Caribbean and Central America. It is a very rarely found in western Europe, where it is considered to be a non-indigenous species. The black-throated blue warbler is sexually dimorphic; the adult male has a black face and cheeks, deep blue upperparts and white underparts, while the adult female is olive-brown above and light yellow below.

Predominantly insectivorous, the black-throated blue warbler supplements its diet with berries and seeds in winter. It builds its nests in thick shrubs and the closeness of its nesting sites to the ground make it a favored species for the study of warbler behavior in the wild. The black-throated blue warbler defends its territory against other birds of the same species for both nesting and winter habitats. As the black-throated blue warbler requires large, unbroken forest areas for nesting, its numbers are declining.

Taxonomy and phylogeny[edit]

The German naturalist Johann Friedrich Gmelin described the black-throated blue warbler in 1789. Its species name is the Latin adjective caerulescens meaning "turning blue".

The black-throated blue warbler is one of the New World warblers or wood-warblers in the family Parulidae. This species was originally placed under the genus Dendroica. It was recently adjusted to be a member of genus Setophaga along with all other members of the genus Dendroica, based on the findings from a recent phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA in 2010.[2] The old genus Dendroica was then deleted.[3] Within the genus, it appears to have no particularly close relatives.[2]

The species breeds in North America and winters in the Caribbean. Some studies have observed significant differences in terms of migratory behavior and plumage color between northern and southern populations within the breeding range.[4] The northern population mainly winters in the western Caribbean (Cuba and Jamaica) while the southern population usually spends the winter on eastern islands (Hispaniola and Puerto Rico). Moreover, males in the southern population have darker plumage than those in the northern population. These differences have led biologists to consider them as separate subspecies. However, a recent study in the United States reveals no significant genetic differentiation between northern (samples from Michigan, New Hampshire and New York states) and southern populations (sample from North Carolina).[5] The study results actually show a recent population expansion from a single glacial refugium, therefore the current populations are homogeneous in terms of genetics. The differentiation that is observed between the northern and southern populations should have occurred quite recently.[5]

Description[edit]

Female black-throated blue warbler

The black-throated blue warbler measures 13 cm (5.1 in) in length and weighs 8.4–12.4 g (0.30–0.44 oz).[6] The adult male has white underparts with a black throat, face and flanks. The upperparts are deep blue. The immature male is similar, but with greener upperparts. The female has olive-brown upperparts and light yellow underparts with darker wings and tail, gray crown and brown patches on the cheek. Both sexes have a thin pointed bill and small white wing patches which are not always visible. Like many other warbler species, it has colorful plumage during the spring and summer. However, outside the breeding season its plumage is drab and less distinctive. In the fall, the black-throated blue warbler can be distinguished by its small white wing patches. Juveniles have brown upperparts with a creamy supercilium and brownish spots on the throat, the breast and the belly.[6]

The bird's song can be described as a buzzed zee-zee-zeeee with an upward inflection. Its call is a flat ctuk.[7][8]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The black-throated blue warbler is a migratory species. It breeds in temperate mature deciduous forests or mixed coniferous-deciduous forest with a thick understory. The species is often found in hilly and mountainous regions in the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada.[9] In late summer, it migrates to the tropical wooded and scrub habitats in the Greater Antilles for wintering. Along the migration route, the black-throated blue warbler can be observed in habitats such as parks and gardens.[6][9] Its nesting site is more important than its foraging site in playing a role in determining the habitat of the black-throated blue warbler.[10] The black-throated blue warbler is an open-nesting species, that nests very close to the ground so it has to choose a protected nesting site where the risk of predation is relatively low.[11]

Behavior[edit]

Feeding and foraging[edit]

The black-throated blue warbler forages actively in low vegetation, sometimes hovering or catching insects in flight. It often forages in one area for a while before moving on to the next. It mainly eats invertebrates such as caterpillars, crane flies, and spiders. It may supplement its diet with seeds, berries, and fruit in the winter.[7]

Males and females prefer different foraging sites. While males usually hover among the higher shrub foliage between 3 and 9 m (10–30 ft), females tend to forage at lower strata.[10] The time within a breeding season influences where the males forage. When it is time to feed the fledglings, males come down to the same foraging strata as females. The black-throated blue warbler mostly forages in the understory instead of the canopy.[12] The large leaves and long branches in the understory affect its foraging behaviors. The black-throated blue warbler more often hovers rather than gleans its prey because it is more difficult to glean among thick understory foliage.[12]

Breeding[edit]

Typical nest site

The black-throated blue warbler is a monogamous species.[13] Its breeding season usually begins in May and ends in July.[14] As a songbird, the male black-throated blue warbler attracts a female’s attention by singing a soft melody. He then follows the female while she is foraging or searching for nesting sites. As soon as the female stops to rest, the male droops his wings slightly, stretches his head forward and up, opens his bill, and faces the female. The female also makes displays to the male by vibrating her wings. In response, the male mounts the female for 2–3 seconds and then flies off.[9]

A 1996, researchers showed that the black-throated blue warbler prefers to reside in hardwood forests with higher shrub densities where food is more abundant compared to lower shrub density plots. Within these high shrub density habitats, not only is there a higher density of warblers, but the population age average is also older, being composed of males and females who are at least two years of age.[15]

The black-throated blue warbler uses social cues in its evaluation and choice of nesting sites.[14] In particular, it listens to the post-breeding songs given out by other males. These songs have strong temporal dependencies. Males sing at the beginning and the peak of breeding season, but songs are not indicative of reproductive success. Near the end of a breeding season, a male that has successfully mated continues to sing while a male that has failed to reproduce abandons the habitat. Therefore, post-breeding songs are reliable indicators of reproductive success within the particular habitat and convey essential information to the natal and breeding dispersers. In comparison to the traditional idea of direct assessment of the vegetation structure, the vocal cue is much more efficient and easier to obtain, hence revealing the advantage of social communication in survival and reproduction. A female, however, does not respond to post-breeding songs directly. Instead, she is likely to rely on the presence of males in deciding nesting sites.[14]

Extra-pair mating[edit]

Although the black-throated blue warbler is a socially monogamous species, males are frequently observed in territories of other males, suggesting the occurrence of extra-pair matings.[13][16] Nestling parentage is identified by microsatellites in a study plot at the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire.[17] The results show that extra-pair fertilization occurs and that the majority of the extra-pair sires come from males in neighboring territories. Only very few extra-pair sires are from distant territories. This local reproductive interaction is also supported by another study conducted earlier, which finds that extra pair fertilizations are strongly and positively correlated with local synchrony but there is no significant association with population level synchrony.[13]

Males engage in mate guarding during the period females are most vulnerable to successful extra pair copulations. They usually stay close to their social mate, singing slowly on the side and following the mate while she is foraging or searching for a nesting site.[9] The guarding behavior, though, may conflict with males’ pursuit of extra-pair fertilizations. It is not yet clear to what extent a male will prefer mate guarding over extra-pair fertilizations.[13] Male retention studies have shown that removal of a male increases the chance of extra-pair offspring in the brood, suggesting that mate guarding reduces extra-pair fertilization attempts.[16] The extra-pair fertilization rate nonetheless cannot be eliminated even if males are allowed to stay near their social mates during fertility risk period. Several hypotheses try to explain this phenomenon: females may be able to manage extra-pair mating even while its social mate is guarding it, or females may reject extra-pair copulation attempts by other males in the absence of male guarding.[16]

Females who participate in extra-pair fertilizations may incorporate better genes in their offspring than they could get with their social mate, but they are likely to receive less help with parental care from their social mates because of cheating. Extra-pair fertilization, therefore, can be costly to females as well.[18] A possible theory why extra-pair fertilization occurs is that female organisms select males with overall high heterozygosity or dissimilar genetics from themselves.[19][20] A microsatellite study suggests an alternative to heterozygosity selection. Because no correlation is found between female extra-pair fertilization frequencies and the overall heterozygosity of their social mates, it is suggested that females may choose only a selective set of heterozygous genes, particularly the MHC locus, which can affect the immunocompetence of offspring.[21]

Sexual selection[edit]

Black-throated blue warblers singing in Smoky Mountain, North Carolina

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Males’ differential recognition of local and nonlocal songs has been studied in two populations: one in the northern United States (New Hampshire) and the other in the southern United States (North Carolina).[22] An asymmetry of response has been found between the two populations. The northern black-throated blue warbler responds strongly to local songs but relatively weakly to the song of southern warblers. In contrast, a warbler from the south responds equally to songs from both the north and the south. A potential explanation of this asymmetry is the difference in female preference between the northern and southern black-throated blue warblers. Females from the north are less likely to mate with a “heterospecific” male from the south; therefore it is not necessary for a northern male to respond strongly to the song of a southern challenger. It is possible that a barrier to gene flow from south to north exists while a barrier to the reverse does not. Therefore female choice of male songs is likely to play a role in gene flow and reproductive isolation, which may eventually lead to diversification.[22]

It has long been believed that a male black-throated blue warbler achieves reproductive maturation well into its first breeding season.[23][24][25] A yearling participates in extra-pair mating and cuckoldry as much as or even more than older males. However, research by Graves has found opposing evidence in terms of testicular size and sperm production.[26] Directional asymmetry is present in many passerine birds. The left testicle is often larger in size than the right one, and this holds true for both yearling and older male warblers. However, the testicle to body mass ratio nonetheless is much lower in yearlings than in older males. Moreover, older males have a greater degree of directional asymmetry than do yearlings. Because the size of testes in birds is correlated to the ejaculate quality, it is likely that females employ age-dependent choice in favor of older males who can be distinguished by their definitive age-specific plumage.[26]

Status and threats[edit]

The black-throated blue warbler enjoys a large range and a big population. Its population trend is currently increasing. This species was ranked as Least Concern by the IUCN in 2012.[1] Deforestation and habitat fragmentation are threatening the black-throated blue warbler in its tropical wintering areas.[7] A report in 2000 discussed the impact of global climate change on the population dynamics of the black-throated blue warbler by an observation from 1986 to 1998. In particular, the effect of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was studied in relation to the survival, fecundity and recruitment of this migratory bird.[27] It was found that El Niño years (the warm South Pacific oceanic phase) were associated with lower adult survival rate in their wintering ground, Jamaica, lower fecundity in the breeding habitats in New Hampshire of the United States, and lower annual recruitment of yearlings and juveniles to both breeding and wintering grounds. All the three factors were relatively higher during La Niña years (cold South Pacific ocean) when the weather was wetter and the food availability was much more abundant. Long-term global warming can aggravate the ENSO effect, adding to the fluctuation of the black-throated blue warbler population.[28]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2012). "Dendroica caerulescens". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Lovette, Irby J. et al. (2010). "A comprehensive multilocus phylogeny for the wood-warblers and a revised classification of the Parulidae (Aves)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57 (2): 753–70. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.07.018. PMID 20696258. 
  3. ^ Chesser, R.T.; et al. (2011). "Fifty-second Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-list of North American Birds". The Auk 128 (3): 600–613. doi:10.1525/auk.2011.128.3.600. 
  4. ^ Rubenstein, D. R.; Chamberlain, CP; Holmes, RT; Ayres, MP; Waldbauer, JR; Graves, GR; Tuross, NC (2002). "Linking breeding and wintering ranges of a migratory songbird using stable isotopes". Science 295 (5557): 1062–1065. doi:10.1126/science.1067124. PMID 11834833. 
  5. ^ a b Davis, L.A.; et al. (2006). "Genetic divergence and migration patterns in a North American passerine bird: implications for evolution and conservation". Molecular Ecology 15 (8): 2141–2152. doi:10.1111/j.1365-294X.2006.02914.x. PMID 16780431. 
  6. ^ a b c del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. (2010). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 747–748. ISBN 978-84-96553-68-2. 
  7. ^ a b c "Black-throated blue warbler". Arkive. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Hof, David; Hazlett, N. (2010). "Low-amplitude song predicts attack in a North American wood warbler". Animal Behaviour 80 (5): 821–828. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.07.017. 
  9. ^ a b c d Cornell Lab of Ornithology. "Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens)". Birds in Forested Landscapes. Cornell University. Retrieved 7 January 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Steele, B.B. (1993). "Selection of Foraging and Nesting Sites by Black-Throated Blue Warblers: Their Relative Influence on Habitat Choi". The Condor 95 (3): 568–579. doi:10.2307/1369601. 
  11. ^ Holmes, R.T.; Sherry, T.W.; Marra, P.P.; Petit, K.E. (1992). "Multiple brooding and productivity of a neotropical migrant, the Black-throated Blue Warbler, in an unfragmented temperate forest". Auk 109 (2): 321–333. doi:10.2307/4088201. 
  12. ^ a b Robinson, S.K.; Holmes, R.T. (1982). "Foraging Behavior of Forest Birds: The Relationships Among Search Tactics, Diet, and Habitat Structure". Ecology 63 (6): 1918–1931. doi:10.2307/1940130. 
  13. ^ a b c d Chuang, H.C.; Webster, M.S.; Holmes, R.T. (1999). "Extrapair Paternity and Local Synchrony in the Black-Throated Blue Warbler" (PDF). The Auk 116 (3): 726–736. doi:10.2307/4089333. 
  14. ^ a b c Betts, M.G.; Hadley, A.S.; Rodenhouse, N.; Nocera, J.J. (2008). "Social Information Trumps Vegetation Structure in Breeding-Site Selection by a Migrant Songbird" (PDF). Proceedings: Biological Sciences 275 (1648): 2257–2263. doi:10.1098/rspb.2008.0217. 
  15. ^ Holmes, R.T.; Marra, P.P.; Sherry, T.W. (1996). "Habitat-specific Demography of Breeding Black-throated Blue Warblers (Dendroica caerulescens): Implications for Population Dynamics" (PDF). Journal of Animal Ecology 65 (2): 183–195. doi:10.2307/5721. 
  16. ^ a b c Chuang-Dobbs, H.C.; Webster, M.S.; Holmes, R.T. (2001). "The effectiveness of mate guarding by male black-throated blue warblers". Behavioral Ecology 12 (5): 541–546. doi:10.1093/beheco/12.5.541. 
  17. ^ Webster, M.S.; Chuang-Dobbs, H.C.; Holmes, R.T. (2001). "Microsatellite identification of extrapair sires in a socially monogamous warbler". Behavioral Ecology 12 (4): 439–446. doi:10.1093/beheco/12.4.439. 
  18. ^ Chuang-Dobbs, H.C.; Webster, M.S.; Holmes, R.T. (2001). "Paternity and Parental Care in the Black-throated Blue Warbler". Animal Behaviour 62: 83–92. doi:10.1006/anbe.2001.1733. 
  19. ^ Weatherhead, P.J.; Dufour, K.W.; Lougheed, S.C.; Eckert, C.G. (1999). "A test of the good-genes-as-heterozygosity hypothesis using red-winged blackbirds". Behavioral Ecology 10 (6): 619–625. doi:10.1093/beheco/10.6.619. 
  20. ^ Tregenza, T.; Wedell, N. (2000). "Genetic compatibility, mate choice and patterns of parentage: invited review". Molecular Ecology 9 (8): 1013–1027. doi:10.1046/j.1365-294x.2000.00964.x. PMID 10964221. 
  21. ^ Smith, S.B.; Webster, M.S.; Holmes, R.T. (2005). "The heterozygosity theory of extra-pair mate choice in birds: a test and a cautionary note". Journal of Avian Biology 36 (2): 146–154. doi:10.1111/j.0908-8857.2005.03417.x. 
  22. ^ a b Colbeck, G.J.; Sillett, T.S.; Webster, M.S. (2010). "Asymmetric discrimination of geographical variation in song in a migratory passerine". Animal Behaviour 80 (2): 311–318. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2010.05.013. 
  23. ^ Rohwer, S.; Fretwell, S.D.; Niles, D.M. (1980). "Delayed maturation in passerine plumages and the deceptive acquisition of resources". American Naturalist 115 (3): 400–437. doi:10.1086/283569. JSTOR 2460726. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Phylogenetic analyses of sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA (Lovette et al. 2010) indicate that all species formerly placed in Dendroica, one species formerly placed in Wilsonia (citrina), and two species formerly placed in Parula (americana and pitiayumi) form a clade with the single species traditionally placed in Setophaga (ruticilla). The generic name Setophaga has priority for this clade (AOU 2011).

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