The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a species that utilizes early-successional (young forest) habitat, similar to, or the precursor to, that used by American woodcock and ruffed grouse. It breeds from southeastern Manitoba to southern Ontario, across the Great Lakes States, south through the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia; migrates throughout the the Eastern US, along the Gulf Coast of Mexico; and winters from southern Mexico into Central and northwestern South America.
Golden-wings have experienced dramatic population declines and is a Bird of Concern prompting the US Fish and Wildlife Service to issue a press release on June 2 2011, that states ‘…The golden-winged warbler … may warrant federal protection as a threatened or endangered species…’ The Golden-Winged Warbler Working Group’s website Ecology & Status page Executive Summary – Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) Status Assessment and Conservation Plan states, ‘…species requires a somewhat unique habitat of sparse trees and shrubs with an herbaceous understory of grasses and forbs in either upland or wetland settings. Golden-wing populations are declining throughout all of their range as early-successional habitats revert to forest and as upland and wetland habitats are lost to human development. These declines are resulting in extirpation of the species from areas that have supported Golden-winged Warblers for at least the last century (Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio). Based on Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data, populations have declined, on average, 2.4% per year survey-wide … and have declined, on average, 3.4% per year in the United States … over the last 37 years of monitoring (1966-2003; Sauer et al. 2004).’
In order to combat the population declines a Conservation Plan is being developed. As of Aug 9, 2012, the warbler’s rangewide Breeding Grounds conservation plan is now available on the working group website at gwwa.org. The entire golden-winged warbler conservation plan is still a work in progress but the sections that pertain to the US are available. As the plan is implemented and habitat developed for this species, ruffed grouse and American woodcock will also be benefited with better habitat.
Two videos showing and describing their habitat are available at: http://gwwa.org/anc.html.