MADISON, Wisc. (WJMN) – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says that they will work with partners to increase efforts to protect the Connecticut warbler in northwest Wisconsin.

The bird is listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Wisconsin and a Partners in Flight Watch List Species of Continental Concern. In the last 50 years the population has declined nearly 80% in Wisconsin and 60% range-wide. The species emerged as one of the state’s largest declining bird populations during a Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II survey conducted between 2015 and 2019 to determine the distribution, breeding status and trends of bird species that nest in Wisconsin.

The Connecticut warbler is a small gray-hooded bird with a bold white eye ring, yellow chest and belly and olive back. Younger birds and females have more muted colors than males. They live in jack pine and black spruce forests primarily in northern Wisconsin during the summer months but occur in various forest types statewide sometimes during spring and fall migration.

During the summer of 2021, biologists conducted follow-up surveys at nearly 60 sites because of the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas II survey. They detected no warblers at the sites. The species is now known to breed only in one small area of upland jack pine in northwestern Wisconsin.

“Connecticut warblers and other migratory songbirds spend a great deal of time elsewhere in the country, many even spending winter on other continents like South America,” said DNR Conservation Biologist Ryan Brady. “Habitat loss, development, climate change and other threats throughout their annual life cycle make it harder for these birds to survive and reproduce.”

The DNR will work with landowners, foresters and other resource managers to protect and enhance the warbler’s habitat of upland jack pine forest in eastern Douglas and western Bayfield counties as well as discuss habitat management options in the surrounding landscape.

They will also work with international partners to develop conseration plans for critical migratory stopover sites and overwintering habitat in Central and South America for wintering ground conservation needs. Money raised through the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin helps support the effort.