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Bird Habitat Conservation Toolkit

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This species occurs in low densities and has a quiet song, making it difficult to study. Most studies are from the eastern boreal forest and should be interpreted with caution.

Blackpoll Warbler

(Setophaga striata)
Overview
status
AlbertaSecure
British ColumbiaYellow
Primary Habitat
Wet Coniferous
Nest Type
Ground
Territory Size
0.2 - 1.9 ha
Nest Reuse
No
Breeding Window
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Peak: July to mid-August
Stand-Level
Unknown
Landscape-Level
Old/riparian coniferous forest

Habitat Ecology

  • The Blackpoll Warbler’s primary habitat is wet conifer forest (black spruce, tamarack) and riparian spruce/alder/willow thickets. Subalpine habitats include mixed conifer, birch and aspen.1
  • Old aspen forest (>125 years old)2 and young pine and mixedwood3 may be important habitat in western forests but this is based on only a few studies, making it difficult to draw strong conclusions (See Knowledge Gaps).
  • These warblers typically build their nests about a meter off the ground, often against the trunk of a conifer.1
  • Young Blackpoll Warblers use habitat with high volumes of coarse woody debris.4

Response to Forest Management

  • Clearcuts are generally considered low-quality habitats, but they may recolonize them relatively quickly (e.g., after 10 years).1

Stand-level Recommendations

  • Given the small amount of information available on this species, their response to riparian buffers is uncertain.5,6 Minimum riparian buffer widths of 60 m are conservatively recommended within spruce forests.5
  • The amount of green-tree retention needed to benefit this species is not known. However, harvest patterns that increase volumes of coarse woody debris may provide some long-term benefits as the block regenerates.

Landscape-level Recommendations

  • Blackpoll warblers have a strong association with riparian white spruce, low-productivity black spruce/tamarack (including bogs), and other wet, old coniferous forests. This suggests that the passive landbase (riparian zones, wet areas) will likely contribute to habitat for this species on the landscape.1,7

Knowledge Gaps

  • This species occurs at low densities and is difficult to detect, and multi-species studies rarely obtain enough observations to analyze Blackpoll Warbler’s response to harvest. More targeted research is required to determine best practices for managing this species in western Canadian forests.

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