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Golden-Winged Warbler (2022)

Photo: (c) Mike Jackson

(Vermivora chryso ptera)

One of the most rapidly decreasing bird species in North America, the Golden-winged Warbler depends on young forest habitats for success nesting. Although males sing from tall trees like black locust and white oaks, the nests are constructed in thick vegetation on the ground, at the base of goldenrods or blackberry clumps. Young nestlings are very vulnerable to chipmunk and snake predation, and the nests are often parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. Golden- winged Warblers also hybridize with Blue-winged Warblers, which creates a significant challenge for conservation efforts.

Areas of higher elevation are more likely to maintain Golden-winged Warbler populations since Blue-winged Warblers are less common, so habitat management targets landscapes with expansive forest cover at higher elevations. Once these areas have been identified, it’s important to create a patchwork of young forest openings that are large enough to support Golden-winged Warblers. Research shows that fallow farm fields with native shrubs and trees, early successional habitats below power lines, and areas disturbed by fire, provide needed habitat for these warblers. Fortunately, the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and American Bird Conservancy (ABC) have provided funding and management plans to landowners in designated counties to improve habitat for Golden-winged Warblers.

The Ned Smith Center of Art and Nature in Dauphin County is working hard to restore degraded habitat for birds like Golden-winged Warblers and Cerulean Warblers on their property that

stretches from the scenic Wiconisco Creek to the top of Berry’s Mountain. The Center will use Blitz funding for habitat restoration of young forest birds like Golden-winged Warblers, as well as mature forest birds like Cerulean Warblers. Invasive plants will be replaced with native trees and shrubs that provide cover, food, and shelter for a variety of forest birds.


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