- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
At close range, an adult male Golden-cheeked Warbler’s rich black plumage and golden cheeks seem to be made of velveteen. This stunning but endangered warbler is found only in the Texas Hill Country where it nests in juniper-oak woodlands. Along with the Hermit, Townsend’s, and Black-throated Green Warblers, it is part of a fascinating evolutionary puzzle of similar species with black-and-gold plumage and buzzy songs, spread across evergreen forests from Alaska to Appalachia.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Males return to nesting grounds early, so look and listen for this bird from late March until they quiet down in mid-May. Although a few Golden-cheeks inhabit suburbs, most are in pristine juniper-oak woodland in protected parks and refuges of the Edwards Plateau of central Texas. This is one of North America’s true gems but may require some patience to find as they often forage inside vegetation. Note that for this endangered species, attracting males using song playback is prohibited in most places.
- Reinita Caridorada (Spanish)
- Paruline à dos noir (French)
- Cool Facts
- The Golden-cheeked Warbler is the only bird species whose population nests entirely in the state of Texas.
- Golden-cheeked Warbler first became known to science in 1860, from specimens collected on its winter range, in Guatemala. The nesting grounds were not discovered in central Texas for another four years.
- By the late 1800s, English naturalist Henry Philemon Attwater was already raising an alarm about the rate at which this species’ habitat was being destroyed. It was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1990.
- Golden-cheeked Warbler is one of very few bird species to have a guest role in a TV sitcom. In 2005, NBC’s “Will & Grace” featured a vagrant Golden-cheeked Warbler that visited Manhattan’s Central Park, in the “Ramble”—a real spot famous for attracting rare bird species. A Golden-cheeked Warbler also appeared in the 1992 mystery novel Thyme of Death by Susan Wittig Albert.
- The oldest recorded Golden-cheeked Warbler was at least 10 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Texas.