New York Natural Heritage Program
Cerulean Warbler
Setophaga cerulea (Wilson, 1810)

Habitat [-]
Cerulean Warblers are found in both riparian and upland forest habitats in New York within landscapes that are heavily forested. They typically inhabit forested wetlands and riparian corridors with a mature canopy composed of sycamore, silver maple, red maple, and green ash, or dry ridgetops and side-slopes with mature oak-hickory or mixed mesophytic forest (Rosenberg et al. 2000). This warbler typically selects mature forest stands with late-successional features such as canopy gaps, a well-developed understory and upper-canopy, and large diameter (>16 in dbh) and super-canopy trees (Wood et al. 2013). The Cerulean Warbler is generally considered an area-sensitive species (Buehler et al. 2013), meaning they are typically found in larger habitat patches, and several studies found that they are sensitive to the amount of forest in the surrounding landscape (Wood et al. 2006; Thompson et al. 2012). Nest microhabitat is typically a lateral limb of a deciduous tree concealed from above by leaves or vines and located in the mid- or upper-canopy (Buehler et al. 2013).

Associated Ecological Communities [-]
  • Allegheny oak forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites in the unglaciated portion of southwestern New York. This is a forest of mixed oaks with a diverse canopy and richer ground flora than other oak communities in the state.
  • Appalachian oak-hickory forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites, usually on ridgetops, upper slopes, or south- and west-facing slopes. The soils are usually loams or sandy loams. This is a broadly defined forest community with several regional and edaphic variants. The dominant trees include red oak, white oak, and/or black oak. Mixed with the oaks, usually at lower densities, are pignut, shagbark, and/or sweet pignut hickory.
  • Beech-maple mesic forest*
    A hardwood forest with sugar maple and American beech codominant. This is a broadly defined community type with several variants. These forests occur on moist, well-drained, usually acid soils. Common associates are yellow birch, white ash, hop hornbeam, and red maple.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Chestnut oak forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on well-drained sites in glaciated portions of the Appalachians, and on the coastal plain. This forest is similar to the Allegheny oak forest; it is distinguished by fewer canopy dominants and a less diverse shrublayer and groundlayer flora. Dominant trees are typically chestnut oak and red oak.
  • Maple-basswood rich mesic forest*
    A species rich hardwood forest that typically occurs on well-drained, moist soils of circumneutral pH. Rich herbs are predominant in the ground layer and are usually correlated with calcareous bedrock, although bedrock does not have to be exposed. The dominant trees are sugar maple, basswood, and white ash.

    * probable association but not confirmed
  • Oak-tulip tree forest
    A hardwood forest that occurs on moist, well-drained sites in southeastern New York. The dominant trees include a mixture of five or more of the following: red oak, tulip tree, American beech, black birch, red maple, scarlet oak, black oak, and white oak.
  • Red maple-hardwood swamp
    A hardwood swamp that occurs in poorly drained depressions, usually on inorganic soils. Red maple is usually the most abundant canopy tree, but it can also be codominant with white, green, or black ash; white or slippery elm; yellow birch; and swamp white oak.
  • Rich mesophytic forest
    A hardwood or mixed forest that resembles the mixed mesophytic forests of the Allegheny Plateau south of New York but is less diverse. It occurs on rich, fine-textured, well-drained soils that are favorable for the dominance of a wide variety of tree species. A canopy with a relatively large number of codominant trees characterizes this forest. Canopy codominants include five or more of the following species: red oak, red maple, white ash, American beech, sugar maple, black cherry, cucumber tree, and black birch.
  • Silver maple-ash swamp
    A hardwood basin swamp that typically occurs in poorly-drained depressions or along the borders of large lakes, and less frequently in poorly drained soils along rivers. These sites are characterized by uniformly wet conditions with minimal seasonal fluctuations in water levels. The dominant trees are usually silver maple and green ash.

Associated Species [-]
  • Black-Throated Green Warbler (Dendroica virens)