Forest openings, or canopy gaps, are an important resource for many forest songbirds, such as Cerulean Warblers (Setophaga cerulea). We examined canopy gap selection by this declining species to determine if male Cerulean Warblers selected particular sizes, vegetative heights, or types of gaps. We tested whether these parameters differed among territories, territory core areas, and randomly-placed sample plots. We used enhanced territory mapping techniques (burst sampling) to define habitat use within the territory. Canopy gap densities were higher within core areas of territories than within territories or random plots, indicating that Cerulean Warblers selected habitat within their territories with the highest gap densities. Selection of regenerating gaps with woody vegetation >12 m within the gap, and canopy heights >24 m surrounding the gap, occurred within territory core areas. These findings differed between two sites indicating that gap selection may vary based on forest structure. Differences were also found regarding the placement of territories with respect to gaps. Larger gaps, such as wildlife food plots, were located on the periphery of territories more often than other types and sizes of gaps, while smaller gaps, such as treefalls, were located within territory boundaries more often than expected. The creations of smaller canopy gaps, <100 m2, within dense stands are likely compatible with forest management for this species.
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Vol. 126 • No. 2