Setophaga caerulescens - (Gmelin, 1789)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Other English Common Names: black-throated blue warbler
Synonym(s): Dendroica caerulescens (Gmelin, 1789)
Taxonomic Status: Accepted
Related ITIS Name(s): Dendroica caerulescens (Gmelin, 1789) (TSN 178888)
French Common Names: Paruline bleue
Spanish Common Names: Chipe Azulnegro
Unique Identifier: ELEMENT_GLOBAL.2.103528
Element Code: ABPBX03050
Informal Taxonomy: Animals, Vertebrates - Birds - Perching Birds
Image 7550

© Larry Master

 
Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family Genus
Animalia Craniata Aves Passeriformes Parulidae Setophaga
Genus Size: D - Medium to large genus (21+ species)
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Concept Reference
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Concept Reference: American Ornithologists' Union (AOU). 1998. Check-list of North American birds. Seventh edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. [as modified by subsequent supplements and corrections published in The Auk]. Also available online: http://www.aou.org/.
Concept Reference Code: B98AOU01NAUS
Name Used in Concept Reference: Dendroica caerulescens
Taxonomic Comments: Phylogenetic analyses of sequences of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA (Lovette et al. 2010) indicate that all species formerly placed in Dendroica, one species formerly placed in Wilsonia (citrina), and two species formerly placed in Parula (americana and pitiayumi) form a clade with the single species traditionally placed in Setophaga (ruticilla). The generic name Setophaga has priority for this clade (AOU 2011).
Conservation Status
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NatureServe Status

Global Status: G5
Global Status Last Reviewed: 09Apr2016
Global Status Last Changed: 03Dec1996
Ranking Methodology Used: Ranked by inspection
Rounded Global Status: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and relatively abundant. No evidence of large-scale declines.
Nation: United States
National Status: N5B (19Mar1997)
Nation: Canada
National Status: N5B,N5M (15Jan2018)

U.S. & Canada State/Province Status
Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
United States Alabama (SNA), Arizona (S1M), Arkansas (SNA), Colorado (SNA), Connecticut (S5B), Delaware (SNA), District of Columbia (S4N), Florida (SNA), Georgia (S5), Illinois (SNA), Indiana (SNA), Iowa (SNA), Kansas (SNA), Kentucky (S3S4B), Louisiana (SNA), Maine (S5B), Maryland (S3S4B), Massachusetts (S4B), Michigan (S4), Minnesota (SNRB), Mississippi (SNA), Missouri (SNA), Montana (SNA), Nebraska (SNRN), New Hampshire (S5B), New Jersey (S3B), New Mexico (S4N), New York (S5B), North Carolina (S4B), North Dakota (SNA), Oklahoma (S1N), Pennsylvania (S4B), Rhode Island (S1B,S3N), South Carolina (S4B), South Dakota (SNA), Tennessee (S4), Texas (S3), Vermont (S5B), Virginia (S4), West Virginia (S3B), Wisconsin (S3B), Wyoming (SNA)
Canada Manitoba (SNA), New Brunswick (S5B,S5M), Nova Scotia (S5B), Ontario (S5B), Prince Edward Island (S4B), Quebec (S5B), Saskatchewan (S2B)

Other Statuses

IUCN Red List Category: LC - Least concern

NatureServe Global Conservation Status Factors

Range Extent: 200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)
Range Extent Comments: BREEDING: eastern Saskatchewan and southeastern Manitoba, from southwestern and central Ontario to Nova Scotia, south to northeastern Minnesota, central Michigan, southern Ontario, northeastern Ohio, in Appalachians from West Virginia to northern Georgia, New Jersey, and southern New England (Holmes 1994, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: almost exclusively in Greater Antilles on Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico; also in the Bahamas, Lesser Antilles to Trinidad, and the Caribbean coasts of the Yucatan, Belize, and Honduras; rare in southern Florida, northern Colombia, and northern Venezuela (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Holmes 1994, AOU 1998).

Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

Population Size: 100,000 to >1,000,000 individuals
Population Size Comments: No estimates of total population size available. Measured densities on breeding grounds range from 0.2-0.9 pairs/hectare in New Hampshire hardwood forest (Sherry and Holmes 1985, Holmes et al. 1986, Steele 1992, Holmes 1994). Elsewhere, densities may be lower (Holmes 1994).

Overall Threat Impact: Low
Overall Threat Impact Comments: Ranked by (Morton 1992) as "highly vulnerable" to continued tropical deforestation because of relatively small wintering range and social limitation (i.e., territoriality) of wintering population density. Reed (1992): given lowest possible conservation priority ranking (both breeding and wintering grounds), based on presumed low susceptibilty to extinction because of broad habitat specificity, wide geographic range, and existence of large populations.

PARASITISM: brood parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbird negligible or infrequent (Holmes and Sherry 1988, (Holmes et al. 1992, Holmes 1994).

Schmidt and Whelan (1999): for American Robin (TURDUS MIGRATORIUS) and Wood Thrush (HYLOCICHLA MUSTELINA) nesting in shrub layer of mixed deciduous forest, nest predation rate higher for nests built in exotic shrubs species (e.g., LONICERA MAACKII and RHAMNUS CATHARTICA) than for nests in native plant species, including some of the same plant substrates favored by BTBW (e.g., VIBURNUM, saplings of native trees).

Short-term Trend: Relatively Stable to increase of <25%
Short-term Trend Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS; Sauer et al. 2001) data show a survey-wide, significant population increase, 1980-2000, of +2.4% per year. Over the longer term (1966-2000), however, the annual increase is smaller and not statistically significant. For both time periods, however, data should be viewed with caution. Populations may have decreased in some areas at margins of breeding range, e.g., southern Appalachians and Minnesota-western Ontario, but sample size (number of BBS routes) not adequate in these areas for reliable statistical analysis.

In New Hampshire, no significant correlation (r=0.08) between population abundance at local (single site, Hubbard Brook) and state-wide scales during period 1969-1986, implying spatial heterogeneity in population trends, hypothesized due to spatial patchiness in availability of lepidopteran larvae food resources (Holmes and Sherry 1988).

Other NatureServe Conservation Status Information

Distribution
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Global Range: (200,000-2,500,000 square km (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: eastern Saskatchewan and southeastern Manitoba, from southwestern and central Ontario to Nova Scotia, south to northeastern Minnesota, central Michigan, southern Ontario, northeastern Ohio, in Appalachians from West Virginia to northern Georgia, New Jersey, and southern New England (Holmes 1994, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: almost exclusively in Greater Antilles on Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola, and Puerto Rico; also in the Bahamas, Lesser Antilles to Trinidad, and the Caribbean coasts of the Yucatan, Belize, and Honduras; rare in southern Florida, northern Colombia, and northern Venezuela (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Holmes 1994, AOU 1998).

U.S. States and Canadian Provinces

Due to latency between updates made in state, provincial or other NatureServe Network databases and when they appear on NatureServe Explorer, for state or provincial information you may wish to contact the data steward in your jurisdiction to obtain the most current data. Please refer to our Distribution Data Sources to find contact information for your jurisdiction.
Color legend for Distribution Map
NOTE: The maps for birds represent the breeding status by state and province. In some jurisdictions, the subnational statuses for common species have not been assessed and the status is shown as not-assessed (SNR). In some jurisdictions, the subnational status refers to the status as a non-breeder; these errors will be corrected in future versions of these maps. A species is not shown in a jurisdiction if it is not known to breed in the jurisdiction or if it occurs only accidentally or casually in the jurisdiction. Thus, the species may occur in a jurisdiction as a seasonal non-breeding resident or as a migratory transient but this will not be indicated on these maps. See other maps on this web site that depict the Western Hemisphere ranges of these species at all seasons of the year.
Endemism: occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

U.S. & Canada State/Province Distribution
United States AL, AR, AZ, CO, CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, LA, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MO, MS, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OK, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, VA, VT, WI, WV, WY
Canada MB, NB, NS, ON, PE, QC, SK

Range Map
Note: Range depicted for New World only. The scale of the maps may cause narrow coastal ranges or ranges on small islands not to appear. Not all vagrant or small disjunct occurrences are depicted. For migratory birds, some individuals occur outside of the passage migrant range depicted. For information on how to obtain shapefiles of species ranges see our Species Mapping pages at www.natureserve.org/conservation-tools/data-maps-tools.

Range Map Compilers: NatureServe, 2002; WILDSPACETM 2002


U.S. Distribution by County Help
State County Name (FIPS Code)
ID Ada (16001), Jefferson (16051), Madison (16065)
MN Cass (27021), Cook (27031), Itasca (27061), Lake (27075), St. Louis (27137)
NJ Bergen (34003), Morris (34027), Ocean (34029), Passaic (34031), Sussex (34037), Warren (34041)
RI Providence (44007)
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
U.S. Distribution by Watershed Help
Watershed Region Help Watershed Name (Watershed Code)
01 Blackstone (01090003)+, Quinebaug (01100001)+*
02 Rondout (02020007)+, Hackensack-Passaic (02030103)+, Middle Delaware-Mongaup-Brodhead (02040104)+, Middle Delaware-Musconetcong (02040105)+, Mullica-Toms (02040301)+
04 Baptism-Brule (04010101)+, Beaver-Lester (04010102)+, St. Louis (04010201)+
07 Leech Lake (07010102)+, Prairie-Willow (07010103)+
09 Rainy Headwaters (09030001)+, Vermilion (09030002)+, Big Fork (09030006)+
17 Idaho Falls (17040201)+, Lower Henrys (17040203)+, Lower Boise (17050114)+
+ Natural heritage record(s) exist for this watershed
* Extirpated/possibly extirpated
Ecology & Life History
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Basic Description: A small bird (wood warbler).
Reproduction Comments: Eggs are laid mostly in May-June. Clutch size is three to five (usually four). Incubation, by female, lasts 12 days. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at ten days. In New Hampshire, 14-50% of females successfully fledged two or more broods (one female fledged three broods; Holmes et al. 1992). Natural or artificial food reductions in north-temperate habitats may periodically reduce reproductive effort/output (Rodenhouse and Holmes 1992).
Ecology Comments: Defends winter territory (Holmes et al. 1989); commonly returns to same territory in successive years. Density in winter in Jamaica 10-40 individuals per 10 ha; density in breeding areas in New Hampshire was 8-14 per 10 ha (Holmes et al. 1989). In maple forests in Quebec, density averaged 0.4 pairs per ha (Darveau et al. 1992).
Non-Migrant: N
Locally Migrant: N
Long Distance Migrant: Y
Mobility and Migration Comments: Begins arriving on winter grounds in numbers in September; most leave by beginning of May. Arrives in Jamaica usually early to mid-October (Holmes et al. 1989).
Terrestrial Habitat(s): Forest - Hardwood, Forest - Mixed, Shrubland/chaparral, Woodland - Hardwood, Woodland - Mixed
Habitat Comments: BREEDING: Understory of deciduous and mixed woodland, second growth, partially cleared forest. In New Hampshire, used shrubs for both nesting and foraging, but nest-site requirements appeared to be most important in determining habitat selection (Steele 1993). Nests in small tree, sapling, or shrub in dense undergrowth (e.g., hobblebush, mountain laurel, rhododendron), within about a meter of the ground.

NON-BREEDING: In migration in other forest types, open woodland, and scrub. In winter usually in dense forests in mountainous interiors of large islands, also in rich lowland forest (Jamaica, Lack 1976); in mature forest and shrubby second growth in Puerto Rico (Wunderle 1995).

Adult Food Habits: Invertivore
Immature Food Habits: Invertivore
Food Comments: Eats insects, also seeds and fruits (Terres 1980). Forages among understory shrubs, ferns, and herbs and in forest midstory. In New Hampshire, foraging males over-utilized sparse foliage between 3-9 m in relation to its relative availability; showed no consistent selection of dense shrubs (Steele 1993). In Jamaica in winter, obtains food from broad thick leaves of forest trees, twigs, ground, and air (Lack 1976).
Adult Phenology: Diurnal
Immature Phenology: Diurnal
Length: 13 centimeters
Weight: 11 grams
Economic Attributes Not yet assessed
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Management Summary
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Stewardship Overview: Key features of ecology and natural history relevant to management are: (1) during breeding season, area-sensitive and edge-avoiding (=forest interior); (2) requires forested habitats with dense, well-developed shrub layer, for both nest sites and foraging sites; (3) nest sites can be concentrated in just one or a few native shrub species; (4) breeding season diet predominantly lepidopteran and sawfly larvae ("caterpillars"); (5) winter range concentrated in Greater Antilles.

Management implications: (1) for breeding, preserve forest tracts which are large in size and which minimize edge (i.e., unfragmented and shape not narrow/extended); (2) may require active management to create or maintain dense understory/shrub strata, e.g., selective thinning to partially open canopy, or a logging rotation schedule which creates young second-growth forests (without shrub-suppressing mature canopy), and alleviation of overbrowsing by white-taled deer (e.g., by herd culling); (3) maintain preferred natve shrub species for nesting, possibly (?) requiring elimination of invasive exotic shrub species; (4) do not suppress outbreaks of defoliating caterpillars; (5) preserve habitat in the somewhat restricted winter range.

Preserve Selection & Design Considerations: Classified as area sensitive (i.e., occurs more frequently or at higher population density as forest size increases) by Freemark and Collins (1992).
Management Requirements: Experimental spraying of BACILLUS THURINGIENSIS in New Hampshire resulted in reduced caterpillar abundance and fewer warbler nesting attempts (Rodenhouse and Holmes 1992).
Monitoring Requirements: Broadcast vocalizations can be used to facilitate surveys of wintering populations (Sliwa and Sherry 1992). Mist net capture (for individual marking) enhanced by playback (Holmes et al. 1989).
Management Research Needs: Test for deleterious effect of invasive exotic shrubs on nest success (Schmidt and Whelan 1999).
Population/Occurrence Delineation
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Group Name: Passerines

Use Class: Breeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Nest Site, Nesting Colony
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Evidence of historical breeding, or current and likely recurring breeding, at a given location, minimally a reliable observation of one or more breeding pairs in appropriate habitat. Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Mapping Guidance: Breeding occurrences include nesting areas as well as foraging areas.

For swallows and other species that have separate nesting and foraging areas, separations are based on nest sites or nesting areas, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap larger than the separation distance are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Mean foraging radius (from nesting area) of Brown-headed Cowbird females was 4.0 kilometers in California, 1.2 kilometers in Illinois-Missouri (Thompson 1994). Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, and probably Red-winged Blackbirds all forage up to 1.6 kilometers away from breeding colony (Willson 1966, Horn 1968). In one study, Brewer's Blackbirds were found as far as 10 kilometers from nesting area (Williams 1952), but this may be unusual.

For swallows and other parrerines with similar behavioral ecology, separation distance pertains to nest sites or nesting colonies, not to locations of foraging individuals. For example, nesting areas separated by a gap of more than 5 km are different occurrences, regardless of the foraging locations of individuals from those nesting areas. This separation procedure is appropriate because nesting areas are the critical aspect of swallow breeding occurrences, tend to be relatively stable or at least somwhat predictable in general location, and so are the basis for effective conservation; foraging areas are much more flexible and not necessarily static.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single breeding events outside the normal breeding distribution.

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Migratory stopover
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: For most passerines: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating individuals (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 25 birds in appropriate habitat.

For swallows: Evidence of recurring presence of migrating flocks (including historical) and potential recurring presence at a given location; minimally a reliable observation of 100 birds in appropriate habitat (e.g., traditional roost sites).

Occurrences should be locations where the species is resident for some time during the appropriate season; it is preferable to have observations documenting presence over at least 7 days annually.

EOs should not be described for species that are nomadic during nonbreeding season: e.g., Lark Bunting.

Be cautious about creating EOs for observations that may represent single events.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance somewhat arbitrary but intended to define occurrences of managable size for conservation purposes. Occurrences defined primarily on the basis of areas supporting concentrations of birds, rather than on the basis of distinct populations.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G., and S. Cannings

Use Class: Nonbreeding
Subtype(s): Foraging Area, Roost Site
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Any area used traditionally in the nonbreeding season (used for populations that are not resident in a location year-round). Minimally, reliable observations of 10 or more individuals in appropriate habitat for 20 or more days at a time. For G1-G3 species, observations of fewer individuals could constitute an occurrence of conservation value. Sites used during migration should be documented under the 'migratory stopover' location use class.

Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Separation distance is necessarily arbitrary but attempts to balance the high mobility of birds with the need for occurrences of reasonable spatial scope. Note that a population's roost sites and foraging areas are parts of the same occurrence, even if they are more than 5 km apart.

For swallows and other species with similar behavioral ecology, the separation distance pertains to communal roost sites rather than to foraging areas; the former tend to be more stable and specific over time than the latter.

Date: 03Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.

Use Class: Nonmigratory
Minimum Criteria for an Occurrence: Occurrences are based on evidence of historical presence, or current and likely recurring presence, at a particular location. Such evidence minimally includes collection or reliable observation and documentation of one or more individuals in or near appropriate habitat.

These occurrence specifications are used for nonmigratory populations of passerine birds.

Separation Barriers: None.
Separation Distance for Unsuitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Distance for Suitable Habitat: 5 km
Separation Justification: Significant dispersal and associated high potential for gene flow among populations of birds separated by tens of kilometers (e.g., Moore and Dolbeer 1989), and increasing evidence that individuals leave their usual home range to engage in extrapair copulations, as well as long foraging excursions of some species, make it difficult to circumscribe occurrences on the basis of meaningful population units without occurrences becoming too large. Hence, a moderate, standardized separation distance has been adopted for songbirds and flycatchers; it should yield occurrences that are not too spatially expansive while also accounting for the likelihood of gene flow among populations within a few kilometers of each other.

Be careful not to separate a population's nesting areas and breeding-season foraging areas as different occurrences; include them in the same occurrence even if they are more than 5 km apart. Blue jays have small summer home ranges but fly up to 4 kilometers to harvest mast (Tarvin and Woolfenden 1999). Flocks of pinyon jays range over 21-29 square kilometers (Ligon 1971, Balda and Bateman 1971); nesting and foraging areas may be widely separated. Tricolored blackbirds forage in flocks that range widely to more than 15 kilometers from the nesting colony (Beedy and Hamilton 1999).

Unsuitable habitat: Habitat not normally used for breeding/feeding by a particular species. For example, unsuitable habitat for grassland and shrubland birds includes forest/woodland, urban/suburban, and aquatic habitats. Most habitats would be suitable for birds with versatile foraging habits (e.g., most corvids).

Date: 10Sep2004
Author: Hammerson, G.
Notes: These specs pertain to nonmigratory species.
Population/Occurrence Viability
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U.S. Invasive Species Impact Rank (I-Rank) Not yet assessed
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Authors/Contributors
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NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Edition Date: 28Nov2002
NatureServe Conservation Status Factors Author: Bowen, R.; revisions by D.W. Mehlman and S. Cannings
Management Information Edition Date: 20Sep2000
Management Information Edition Author: BOWEN, R.; REVISIONS BY D.W. MEHLMAN
Element Ecology & Life History Edition Date: 14May1996
Element Ecology & Life History Author(s): Hammerson, G.

Zoological data developed by NatureServe and its network of natural heritage programs (see Local Programs) and other contributors and cooperators (see Sources).

References
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