Black-throated Green Warbler (coastal Wayne's species) breeding study & mapping project

An isolated coastal population of Black-throated Green Warblers, discovered by Arthur T. Wayne, breeds in mature cypress swamps near the coast in SC, NC and extreme southern VA.  Most ornithologists believe these southeastern coastal Black-throated Green Warblers are a distinct subspecies.  This bird's numbers have declined precipitously in the past decade for largely unknown reasons.  Several once-thriving colonies in South Carolina have disappeared in recent years.  This project is conducting exhaustive field surveys of the type habitat and will: catalog plant species present in known coastal SC breeding areas, note breeding birds, map their locations, attempt to note breeding success (or lack thereof), and investigate potential causes of the species’ decline.  Nest parasitism (exacerbated by forest fragmentation), deforestation on breeding/wintering grounds, drought and damage from Hurricane Hugo are possible culprits.

Information gleaned from field studies will be used to prepare a paper on the status, distribution and conservation of Wayne’s Black-throated Green Warblers in coastal SC.
John Cely and Lex Glover of the SC Dept. of Natural Resources, Dr. Dennis Forsythe of The Citadel, Craig Watson of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Steve Lohr of the US Forest Service, W. David Chamberlain, Edwin L. Blitch III, Dr. Will Post of the Charleston Museum, Perry Nugent and others have contributed data and/or personal correspondence to the project. SC Bird Life (Sprunt & Chamberlain) and Status & Distribution of South Carolina Birds (Post & Gauthreaux) provided historical clues to locations of extant colonies as well as preferred habitat / plant communities.

In order to better understand and protect Wayne's Warbler breeding habitat, experts from the SC Native Plant Society and others will be asked to help create a comprehensive plant index at remaining SC breeding sites.

Thus far, the study has determined that the world's largest breeding colony of Wayne's Black-throated Green Warblers is located in southern Charleston County, South Carolina.

CRBO project field participants: Nathan Dias, Edwin L. Blitch III, Burton E. Moore III, Charles Hocevar.

Steve Lohr of the US Forest Service has provided valuable information on colonies of Wayne's Warblers in the Francis Marion National Forest.

Click on this image to see mpeg video (LARGE FILE, zoomed view at the end) of a Wayne's Warbler in coastal SC: