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WV Wildlife: How you can help the Cerulean Warbler Bird & get paid for it

The more open canopy provides the environment the Cerulean Warbler prefers and needs to breed. (WCHS/WVAH)

The Cerulean Warbler is a migratory songbird that calls much of our Appalachian Mountains home. Unfortunately, though, their numbers have been rapidly falling over the years. In this edition of West Virginia Wildlife, we let you know how our West Virginia DNR, and others, are trying to help this distressed bird.


It may sound like a contradiction at first, but the Cerulean Warbler--a bird that hasn't been doing too well recently--actually needs some trees to be chopped.

That's why the National Wild Turkey Federation, our West Virginia Division of Natural Resources and even private landowners to name a few--are joining forces to try to make this bird, and others, thrive again.

Kyle Aldinger, Cerulean Warbler Partnership Coordinator with the National Wild Turkey Federation, says they’re accepting applications and wouldn't mind some help.

"This program, the Cerulean Warbler Project, runs through 2020. We accept applications year-round", said Aldinger.

There’s a financial incentive for people to join, too; landowners willing to modify their woods for the birds—to the liking of the program-- will get paid.

The program asks private landowners, who are interested, to cut certain trees down in their woods--trees that aren't preferred by the Cerulean Warbler and other species of birds. This extra room made should allow other--more desirable--species of trees and plants to sprout up. The hope is to give parts of our West Virginia forests more diversity and more structure to benefit wildlife. Aldinger explains this in more depth.

"In a forest that the canopy has not been opened up in a while, you start to see a lot of red maple--as opposed to species like oaks that are great for wildlife and that everybody really wants on their property", said Aldinger.

John Cobb, a landowner in the program in Lewis county, understands the importance of allowing some sunlight to come through these canopy gaps--which will allow more desirable trees to grow and the forest to become more diverse. That's good news for all wildlife.

"So, I’m going to be able to cut the trees that those four gentlemen marked for me out here on these ridges and when we go in--you'll be able to see the markings in orange that they've done to the trees that we're going to eliminate", said Cobb.

Aldinger says these birds especially prefer trees that produce nuts.

"The cerulean warbler, in general, is a bird that likes oak and hickory stands. Oaks and hickories are called mast-producing trees, because they produce nuts. They also produce a great structure for Cerulean Warblers to breed--they nest on the edges of those canopy gaps, they sing and raise their young there. It also provides an abundant food source for the different wildlife that you can find in the forest”, said Aldinger.

That different wildlife may be anything from turkey to deer to ruffed grouse; they should appreciate the habitat modifications, too.

John Cobb--landowner in Lewis County--is a big fan of the program.

"I think it's important for landowners that want to get involved and help this habitat creation understand that they'll receive a booklet like this. It gives specific details on how to go about the conservation plan schedule of operations. It's a positive win-win for the landowner and for the Cerulean Warbler and for all the other birds. I want to give back to nature, which I’ve always enjoyed", said Cobb.

SOME NOTES:

  • To visit the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, just click here.

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