Monday, July 30, 2012

Aquatic Warbler

Acrocephalus paludicola
Today's animal is one of the most threatened Passerine birds in Europe, and is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN. The species was once widespread and numerous, found in wetland areas throughout the continent. At present, the Warblers are restricted to only a few dozen sites across six countries, and it is estimated that there are less than 12,000 males left.

So why are these once abundant birds now threatened with extinction? It all has to do with their habitat needs. Aquatic Warblers live in very specific marshes and fen mires, and as those areas are taken over by human activity, the Warblers have no where to go. The only breeding populations left are found in Eastern Europe, and luckily there have been efforts made to maintain the habitats that are still viable.

But it isn't just their breeding sites that need protecting-- Aquatic Warblers migrate up to 7,500 miles (12,000km) every year to Sub-Saharan Africa. Their stopover points need protection as well, and so do their wintering grounds. Until recently, no one knew where the birds did their wintering, but a site was discovered in Senegal that houses up to 10,000 birds each year (potentially half the worldwide population). Obviously it will be very important to keep this site preserved as well, and promotional efforts are being made to do so.

So now that conservation measures have been discussed, we can move on to some other facts. Aquatic Warblers have a really fascinating breeding system. From May to July, the males fly about and sing as loudly as they can, trying to attract as many females as possible. They have no parental duties, so they are free to advertise themselves continuously. But don't think that the males are the only ones to have more than one mate! Females will also breed multiples times, and around 60% of all broods are fathered by more than one individual!

Aquatic Warblers are insectivores, though they do sometimes eat fruits as well.

IUCN Status : Vulnerable
Location : Europe, Asia
Size : Length up to 5in (13cm)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Aves -- Order : Passeriformes
Family : Acrocephalidae -- Genus : Acrocephalus -- Species : A. paludicola

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