Congratulations to Susan Elliott for winning the May 2021 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist. Sue’s photograph and audio recording of a sky-blue male Cerulean Warbler singing from a perch garnered the most faves this month.
This appropriately named and stunningly blue warbler is a rare breeder in northwestern Vermont with a buzzy, rising song that can sound quite similar to the much more common Black-throated Blue Warbler. Cerulean Warblers require mature deciduous forests with breaks in the canopy to breed, and are at the northern extent of their breeding range in Vermont. Further south in the core of their breeding range, this species has experienced startling population declines due in large part to habitat fragmentation from mountaintop removal mining operations and other forms of development and deforestation. Similar land-use changes on the Cerulean Warbler’s South American wintering grounds have occurred in recent decades, and this species is one of the many resident and migrant birds that benefit from shade-grown coffee plantations. When we are lucky enough to be graced by these bright blue world travelers in spring and summer, they often remain high up in the canopy, where their colors can’t be fully appreciated. This makes Sue’s photos all the more remarkable for their nearly eye-level perspective of this handsome singing male Cerulean Warbler!
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!