First South American Reserve for North American Songbird August 17, 2005

Today I received the following press release from the American Bird Conservancy concerning a new refuge in Colombia to protect the Cerulean Warbler on its wintering grounds. The Cerulean Warbler is one of my favorite birds. I remember vividly the first time I saw one. I was 16 and attending high school in Houston. A rainstorm had caused a fallout of warblers in a woodlot along a bayou near my home. When I entered the woods I found them filled with warblers. All of a sudden I saw a warbler with white underparts and a blue breast band: my lifer Cerulean.

The Cerulean Warbler has suffered such large population declines that it is now one of our most endangered warblers. This new reserve will help protect this endangered species.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Dateline: Washington, D.C.

Date: August 17, 2005

Contact: Mike Parr

              American Bird Conservancy

              Tel: 202 234 7181 ext. 204

FIRST SOUTH AMERICAN RESERVE FOR NORTH AMERICAN SONGBIRD

American Bird Conservancy (ABC) and Colombian conservation group, Fundación ProAves, announce the creation of South America's first protected area for a songbird that breeds exclusively in North America. The reserve will protect wintering habitat for the Cerulean Warbler, a striking bright blue and white migratory bird that has experienced significant population decreases in recent years, mainly due to loss of habitat on both its nesting grounds in North America and wintering grounds in South America.

The Cerulean Warbler nests in the eastern United States and Canada from the lower Great Lakes region, southern Quebec and New England, south to northern Louisiana and northwestern Georgia. Within this area, the species breeds primarily in the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys, especially in the upper Ohio River Valley in West Virginia and western Pennsylvania. The species also ranges east to New York, Maryland, and Virginia.

"This Cerulean Warbler reserve is a ground-breaking step in the conservation of migratory song birds," said Mike Parr, Vice President for Communications at American Bird Conservancy. "This is the first South American preserve designed to protect a bird species that nests solely in the United States and Canada."

The new reserve currently includes 500 acres of subtropical forest in the Rio Chucurí basin of Santander, Colombia. The area, one of the last natural remnant forest fragments in the region, shelters high populations of wintering Cerulean Warblers. The reserve also contains three Critically Endangered bird species: the Gorgeted Wood-Quail, Colombian Mountain Grackle, and Chestnut-bellied Hummingbird, along with many other threatened and endemic birds.

"The Neotropical Migratory Bird Conservation Act, currently up for reauthorization in Congress, provided critical funding that helped to show that this region is important to the long-term survival of the Cerulean Warbler," said Parr. "This project and others like it provide a strong justification for the renewal of the Act."

The reserve in Santander is the focal point for a continuing regional conservation campaign for the warbler. Another key area for wintering Ceruleans, southwestern Antioquia, Colombia, has also been targeted by ABC for further conservation efforts.

The purchase was made possible by a major donation from British conservationist Robert Giles, and support from other individual donors.

American Bird Conservancy (www.abcbirds.org)is a 501©3 not-for-profit organization, whose mission is to conserve native wild birds and their habitats throughout the Americas. It is the only U.S.-based group dedicated solely to overcoming the greatest threats facing birds throughout the Western Hemisphere. ABC believes adequate resources exist to overcome these threats, and that unifying people, organizations, and agencies around common approaches to priority issues is the key to success.