Canada Warblers in Colombia


The non-breeding season ecology and migratory connectivity of the Canada Warbler in Colombia

Status – current


Colombia lies within the core of the wintering range of the Canada Warbler (Cardellina canadensis), a declining Neotropical migratory bird of conservation concern. The species is largely known from Andean forests but it will also use agroforestry systems such as shade coffee but rarely more open habitats such as silvopastures. While the species elevational distribution and habitat use is reasonably well known from anecdotal evidence, there have been no systematic studies to determine how its abundance varies with elevation or habitat. Further, the connectivity between breeding populations and wintering populations has yet to be examined. In order to effectively prioritize regions, habitats and elevations for the conservation of this species, it is essential to have the answer to all three of these questions.

Cardellina canadensis 2

Just like its wintering ecology, the migratory ecology of the species is also poorly known. For this reason SELVA, Environment Canada and the University of Saskatchewan, initiated a study of Canada Warblers in Colombia, with a view to determining the migratory connectivity between individuals wintering in Colombia and the breeding grounds, as well as determining the elevational distribution of the species and its habitat use. The project will also analyze data from SELVA’s migration monitoring stations in Colombia to better understand the migratory ecology of the species. All of the information generated by this project will contribute to the “Canada Warbler International Conservation Initiative”.

Key findings and achievements

  • >150 feathers were collected for a stable isotope analysis aimed at determining the connectivity between Canada Warbler populations in Colombia and North America from six different sites in Colombia during 2015
  • Gabriel Colorado from the Universidad Nacional, Sede Leticia, contributed additional feathers from several sites in Antioquia
  • Between February and March 2015, 282 point counts and 301 playback experiments were carried out between 750 m and 2500 m at various sites throughout the Colombian Andes.
  • A preliminary analysis of the point count data suggest that Canada Warblers are largely found between 1000 m and 2250 m in Colombia and peak in abundance between 1250 and 1500 m.
  • The preliminary results also show that the species is more abundant in natural forest relative to shade coffee plantations.



Canada Warbler International Conservation Initiative

Documents to download / Publications

Technical report – Season 1 PDF

Gonzalez-Prieto, A.M., Bayly, N.J., Colorado, G.J. & Hobson, K.A. (2016) The topography of the Andes mountains shapes the wintering distribution of a migratory bird. Diversity and Distributions  DOI: 10.1111/ddi.12515

Cárdenas-Ortiz, L., Bayly, N.J., Colorado, C.J. & Hobson, K.A. (2017) Fall migration and breeding origins of Canada Warbler moving through northern Colombia. Journal of Field Ornithology 88:53-64. DOI: 10.1111/jofo.12186


– Environment Canada
The work of Ana María González in Colombia was also supported by Bird Studies Canada, BirdLife International, USFWS NMBCA, Forest Service, Swarovski Optic.

 Project team

Project directors – Ana María Gonzalez and Nicholas Bayly
Researchers – Laura Céspedes, Laura Cárdenas-Ortiz


This Project would not be posible without alliances with the following institutions and individuals:
University of Saskatchewan; Gabriel Colorado; Environment Canada; Keith Hobson.