Golden-winged warbler

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Golden-winged warbler
Golden-winged Warbler NGM-v31-p308-C.jpg
Male and Female birds
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Vermivora
V. chrysoptera
Binomial name
Vermivora chrysoptera
(Linnaeus, 1766)
Vermivora chrysoptera map.svg
Range of V. chrysoptera      Breeding range     Wintering range
  • Motacilla chrysoptera Linnaeus, 1766
  • Helmintophila chrysoptera Ridgway, 1882

The Golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a New World warbler. It breeds in southeastern and south-central Canada and in the Appalachian Mountains in northeastern to north-central United States. The majority (~70%) of the global population breeds in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Manitoba. Golden-winged warbler populations are slowly expanding northwards, but are generally declining across its range, most likely as a result of habitat loss and competition/interbreeding with the very closely related Blue-winged warbler, Vermivora cyanoptera.


The genus name Vermivora is from Latin vermis "worm", and vorare, "to devour", and the specific chrysoptera is from Ancient Greek khrusos, "gold", and pteron, "wing".[2]


This is a small warbler, measuring 11.6 cm (4.6 in) long and weighing 8–10 g (0.28–0.35 oz). The male has black throat, black ear patch bordered in white, and a yellow crown and wing patch. Females appear similar to males, with a light gray throat and light gray ear patches. In both sexes, extensive white on the tail is conspicuous from below. Underparts are grayish white and the bill is long and slender. Unlike most warblers, juveniles can be reliably sexed (using throat patch color) approximately 15 days after fledging.[citation needed]

Life history[edit]

Golden-winged warblers are migratory, breeding in eastern North America and wintering in southern Central America and the neighboring regions in Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador. They are very rare vagrants elsewhere.

Golden-winged warblers breed in open scrubby areas, wetlands, and mature forest adjacent to those habitats. They lay 3–6 eggs (often 5) in a concealed cup nest on the ground or low in a bush.

Golden-winged warblers feed on insects, spiders, and caterpillars. They have strong gaping (opening) musculature around their bill, allowing them to uncover hidden caterpillars.

Their song is variable, but is most often perceived as a trilled bzzzzzzz buzz buzz buzz. The call is a buzzy chip or zip.

Five geotracked Golden-winged warblers in Tennessee were observed migrating hundreds of miles south, presumably avoiding tornadic storms, in April 2014. Individuals left prior to the arrival of the storm, perhaps after detecting it due to infrasound.[3]


This species forms two distinctive hybrids with Blue-winged warblers where their ranges overlap in the Great Lakes and New England area. The more common, genetically dominant Brewster's warbler is gray above and whitish (male) or yellow (female) below. It has a black eyestripe and two white wingbars.

The rarer recessive Lawrence's warbler has a male plumage with green and yellow above and yellow below, with white wing bars and the same face pattern as male Golden-winged. The female is gray above and whitish below with two yellow wing bars and the same face pattern as female Golden-winged. Another rare recessive hybrid species is the Burket's warbler, which has been noted in the same geographic area as Brewster's and Lawrence's. Burket's warbler was first documented by researchers at Cornell University's Lab of Ornithology.[4][5] Brewster's, Lawrence's, and Burket's warblers can vary considerably in their physical features and sing songs of either Blue-winged or Golden-winged warblers.

Genetic introgression occurs across their range, producing cryptic hybrids (morphologically pure individuals with small amounts of blue-winged warbler DNA). These hybrids may be present in low numbers even on the edges of Golden-winged warbler range, far from any populations of Blue-winged warblers.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Vermivora chrysoptera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 105, 400. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  3. ^ Henry M. Streby et al. (2015) "Tornadic Storm Avoidance Behavior in Breeding Songbirds"Current Biology, 25(1), pp. 98 – 102.
  4. ^ Toews, David P. L.; Streby, Henry M.; Burket, Lowell; Taylor, Scott A. (2018-11-01). "A wood-warbler produced through both interspecific and intergeneric hybridization". Biology Letters. 14 (11): 20180557. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2018.0557. ISSN 1744-9561. PMC 6283930. PMID 30404868.
  5. ^ "'Newbie' bird watcher discovers extremely rare 3-species hybrid warbler | CBC Radio". CBC. Retrieved 2018-11-13.

External links[edit]