Moving nonstop through the trees, this dainty black-bibbed bird can at first be mistaken for a chickadee.

Golden-winged Warbler map, NatureServeThe Golden-winged Warbler is a dynamo, practically buzzing with activity as it moves through the trees. It also undertakes an amazing migration, traveling from its breeding grounds in the northeastern United States to wintering areas in Central and South America.

The species is notable for another reason: It has suffered one of the steepest population declines of any songbird. Since 1966, the species has been reduced by 66 percent, mostly because of habitat loss on its breeding grounds.

One Special Warbler

Golden-winged Warblers are specialists, requiring “young,” or early-successional, forests for breeding. Once their young leave the nest, the birds need mature forests for foraging nearby.

Golden-winged Warblers also suffer from competition and hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers; parasitism by cowbirds, which lay their eggs in the warbler's nests; and loss of wintering habitat in Latin America.

Bringing Back the Golden-winged Warbler

The Golden-winged Warbler is one of our top-priority birds. Our Migratory Bird Program's efforts to bring back the species' numbers are numerous and range across the species' breeding and wintering grounds.

ABC is a member of the Golden-winged Warbler Working Group, which recently released a conservation blueprint to boost the warbler's numbers by 50 percent within the next 50 years.

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That's a big goal, and we're taking big steps to meet it, restoring breeding habitat across thousands of acres in Minnesota —home to more than half of the species' population — as well as Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Tennessee, and North Carolina. This work that will soon expand to New Jersey and Michigan.

We participate in the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, a coalition working to restore forests on reclaimed mine sites in association with the ABC-supported Appalachian Mountains Joint Venture. In Minnesota, with funding from the Outdoor Heritage Fund, we have improved more than 2,500 acres of habitat for Golden-winged Warblers and other species of concern.

Female olden-winged Warbler, Greg Lavaty

Female Golden-winged Warbler by Greg Lavaty

Taking Steps in the South

In Nicaragua, we're working with the owners of El Jaguar Reserve to improve and protect habitat in a conservation corridor for the Golden-winged Warbler. This work includes reforestation, migratory bird monitoring, mapping of priority core habitat areas, and educational workshops for farmers and schools.

Other conservation work in Latin America includes promotion of bird-friendly practices like shade-grown, bird-friendly coffee. The coffee you buy really does make a difference!

Big News for Breeding Warblers

We benefited from a major 2015 grant announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's new Regional Conservation Partnership Program. Managed in partnership with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, this Golden-winged Warbler project is expected to create new breeding habitat for 1,180 pairs of the birds and result in an increase of 16,000 individuals within four years.

Get Involved

We welcome all and every effort to help us "bring back the birds." If you would like to make a donation, please click here. Or visit our Get Involved page to learn more about how you can help. Together, we can make a difference for this special bird.

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