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UC research: Saving habitat key to songbird's survival
Date:3/26/2012

d along old coal mining roadways in the mountains of West Virginia.

The obvious threat to the golden-wing is man. Modern mining practices favor the mountaintop removal process, where a mountain summit is leveled with explosives to provide easier access to the underlying coal seam. This method destroys a lot of the old mining and logging roads where the warblers lived, leaving a barren plateau.

The other threat is a sister species to the golden-winged warbler the blue-winged warbler. This bird is similar to the golden-wing in appearance but with different facial markings, a more yellow body and bluish-gray patches on its wings. Blue-wings typically prefer lower elevations but have been spreading up mountainsides and competing with golden-wings, as both birds are naturally territorial.

Key to saving the bird is quantifying how many are left, and finding the remaining critical habitats places where it is likely to flourish and preserving them. That's where Canterbury is concentrating his efforts. He's been trapping birds in West Virginia, tagging them and tracking their behavior. From what he's seen, he believes the golden-winged warbler can be saved but time is running out.

"The human population is increasing by the second," Canterbury says. "The more people there are on Earth, the less there's going to be available for other wildlife and other organisms. Suburban sprawl is consuming a lot of wildlife habitats, and the golden-winged warbler apparently does not do well in fragmented landscapes."


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Contact: M.B. Reilly
reillymb@ucmail.uc.edu
513-556-1824
University of Cincinnati
Source:Eurekalert

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