Habitat managed using the species-specific, science-based guidelines for golden-winged warblers on Sparta Mountain WMA (in its 4th growing season). photo by Sharon Petzinger

by Sharon Petzinger, NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife

During 2012–2014, researchers studied the success of breeding Golden-winged Warblers in habitats of the eastern U.S. managed using Working Lands for Wildlife conservation practices. An article titled “An Evaluation and Comparison of Conservation Guidelines for an At-risk Migratory Songbird” represents an accruement of evidence supporting the notion that managed upland habitats (particularly timber harvest, old field management, and grazing management) host consistently high levels of Golden-winged Warbler nesting success and fledgling productivity. Researchers evaluated five Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) ‘‘management scenarios’’ with respect to nesting success and vegetation conditions: grazing management, timber harvest, old field management, prescribed fire-old field, and prescribed fire-young forest. Each study site had recently been created or maintained using one of the five  conservation practices and were in areas with >80% forest cover in the landscapes that were also known to consistently host populations of breeding Golden-winged Warblers.  The forest communities in these landscapes were predominately mixed-oak and northern hardwood.

Nesting success was comparable among the five NRCS-WLFW management scenarios even though each management scenario produced or maintained habitat in different ways. Thus the current habitat recommendations for Golden-winged Warblers, when met through NRCS management scenarios, are sufficient in producing a broad, but targeted range of habitat conditions that can be used successfully by breeding Golden-winged Warblers, which appear to be somewhat flexible in their nest-site requirements. In conclusion, when species-specific, science-based guidelines are implemented for Golden-winged Warblers, these anthropogenic habitats consistently supported high nesting success as well as post-fledgling survival, thus having high potential to contribute to the maintenance or recovery of this species.

To read the full article, click here.