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Tuesday, January 29 • 6:00pm - 9:00pm
(P08) Analyzing the Potential Change in Behavior of Cerulean Warblers (Setophaga cerulea) in Response to an Avian Nest Predator

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AUTHORS. Alexander Sharp, Kamal Islam – Ball State University

ABSTRACT. The Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea), a small, neo-tropical migrant, has gained significant attention in recent years as a species that has declined faster than any other North American songbird. Since 2007, we have been monitoring Cerulean Warbler populations within the Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood state forests of Southern Indiana. Previous studies on cavity nesting and communal cup nesting species suggest that parents will adjust their behavior in response to an avian nest predator, to either avoid detection, or to fend off the predator. These behaviors include mobbing, selective provisioning of nestlings, and increased vigilance and aggression on the nest. Studies suggest that forest fragmentation positively impacts nest predators, and in-turn leads to an increase in nest predation. The objective of this study is to determine if and how Cerulean Warblers change their behavior when a common avian nest predator, Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata), is in the vicinity of the nest. In the summer of 2018, we conducted a preliminary study on seven Cerulean Warbler nests found at our study sites. During the observation period, three of the nests were randomly assigned to a control group, and subjected to Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla) vocalizations, and the other four nests were assigned to a treatment group, and subjected to Blue Jay vocalizations. We videotaped parents at the nest during the observation period to analyze their behavior. The results of this preliminary study will be presented. This study is the first to analyze the behavior of an open-cup, canopy nesting species in response to an avian nest predator. Data collected from this study will determine if Cerulean Warblers alter their behavior to avoid detection of their nest, and may help shed some light on the causes of poor nesting success in this species.

Tuesday January 29, 2019 6:00pm - 9:00pm
Superior Ballroom CD