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Prairie Warblers - An Early Successional Species

What's a Prairie Warbler doing in a tree farm?

Despite their name, Prairie Warblers nest in tree farms of recently planted pines, in fields overgrown with scattered shrubs, and in clearings under power lines. Biologists call these “early successional” habitats. They’re characterized by plants that are the first to return to land altered by clearing or fire. Prairie Warblers and similar birds have declined rapidly during the last 50 years, being pressed from all sides. But they’re now benefiting from conservation on several fronts, including the Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens and the Albany Pine Bush Reserve in New York.

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BirdNote®

Prairie Warbler - An Early Successional Species

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Cassin's Finch song, Hermit Thrush, Dusky Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglet in bkgrd.)
It’s easy to think that most birds, like those we’re hearing, prefer the habitats of mature ecosystems. [Hermit Thrush song]. The reality, however, is more varied. Some birds favor landscapes in flux, habitats in transition.
Consider the Prairie Warbler, a beautiful yellow and black songbird.
[Prairie Warbler song]
Despite their name, Prairie Warblers nest in tree farms of pines, in fields overgrown with scattered shrubs, and in clearings under power lines. [Prairie Warbler song] Biologists call these habitats “early successional.” That is, they are characterized by plants that first return to land altered by clearing or fire.
Early successional nesters in eastern North America, like the Prairie Warbler, have declined rapidly during the last 50 years. They’ve been pressed from all sides: forests have matured, forest fires suppressed, too much herbicide has been used in tree farms, and the warbler’s wintering habitat in Florida and the West Indies has been developed.
[Prairie Warbler song]
Prairie Warblers, then, can benefit from conservation on several fronts. The Michael Huber Prairie Warbler Preserve was established in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens. And in North Carolina, scientists are helping foresters promote the warbler’s nesting success in tree farms.
[Prairie Warbler song]
Today’s show brought to you by The Lufkin Family Foundation.  To learn more about Prairie Warbler conservation, find links on our website, birdnote.org.
###
Sounds of birds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Cassin’s Finch 13899 recorded by G.F. Budney; Hermit Thrush by T.G. Sander; Prairie Warbler 110248 W.L. Hershberger and 93767 M. Medler (Prairie Warbler while foraging in shrubs).
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org     March 2014   Narrator: Michael Stein

ID# SotB-PRAW-01-2012-03-10       SotB-PRAW-01

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