Rare Southern Songbird Thrives in 'Biological Deserts'
Swainson's warbler, a little bird with a big noise, has found a surprising new home.
With its natural habitat mostly gone, one of North America's rarest songbirds has found a surprising workaround: It's thriving in the industrial pine plantations of the southeastern United States.
Farmed loblolly pines are becoming the main breeding habitat for the mysterious Swainson's warbler, according to a recent study published in Bird Conservation International. The discovery is welcome news for the secretive bird, a species of high conservation concern. It's also a bit ironic, says study author Gary Graves, curator of birds at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.
"The pine industry doesn't care about conservation," Graves says. "But quite by accident, they're growing and generating more habitat for this bird than the federal government, state governments, and NGOs combined."