Assessing the breeding status of the Blue-winged Warbler on TAPOCO project lands
As part of the federal relicensing program for the Tapoco Division of Alcoa Power Generating Inc. an inventory of sensitive species was conducted by the Tennessee Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. A multi-agency review of inventory information identified additional information needs pursuant to the relicensing process. Among others, the panel identified the Blue-winged Warbler as a species that may depend on wetlands subject to impact from fluctuations in water levels. The Blue-winged Warbler is a small, insectivorous bird that utilizes a broad spectrum of weedy, shrubby, and second growth habitats; from dry, brushy hillsides to damp floodplain scrub habitat. Because the species nests on or near the ground it may be negatively impacted by periodic flooding. During the summer of 2001, habitat patches believed to have the highest potential to support Blue-winged Warblers were surveyed for breeding birds. Although these habitats support a diverse avian community, no Blue-winged Warblers were detected. The majority of patches did not contain habitat consistent with those required by Blue-winged Warblers. The few patches that did contain habitat consistent with those used elsewhere by Blue-winged Warblers and that supported species typically associated with Blue-wings were very small and isolated. Currently, habitats adjacent to Tapoco Project waters and subject to impacts from water fluctuations do not appear to support Blue-winged Warblers.