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Golden-winged Warbler


IUCN Conservation Status: Near Threatened

A boldly marked warbler with a color pattern all its own, Golden-winged Warblers are slim, silvery gray birds with golden flashes on the head and wings. They breed in wet, shrubby tangles of the Upper Midwest and Appalachians, and spend winters in open woodlands and shade-coffee plantations. They have suffered severe population declines in the last half-century. They often hybridize with Blue-winged Warblers, producing a range of distinctive forms.


Males sing a buzzy, two-parted song: a long note on a high pitch followed by 3–6 shorter, lower notes. Another song, often given repeatedly before dawn, is a rapid stutter followed by lower buzzy notes. It is associated with territorial defense.


  • Song
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Males and females give tzip notes to each other during courtship. Adults make a zeee note to young as they leave the nest and during the postfledging period.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Your best bet for spotting this increasingly rare species is to visit a shrubby, open area where there are known breeding birds. (Minnesota is the stronghold of the remaining Golden-winged Warbler population.) Try to visit during May and June. Males are very vocal and active then; they make long, conspicuous flights, perching near the top of a sapling to sing boldly. Look for males and females hopping about in shrubs in search of food (females forage closer to the ground). Males are fairly responsive to pishing, which may encourage a Golden-winged Warbler to pop just its face out of protective cover. On migration in late April and early May, look for these uncommon migrants at woodlots and other migrant traps that draw in large numbers of other migratory songbirds.

Get Involved

To learn more about Golden-winged Warbler conservation, visit the Golden-winged Warbler Working Group website.

You Might Also Like

A Golden Plan for a Turnaround: The Golden-winged Warbler Conservation Plan lays out a blueprint for reversing one of the steepest declines of any songbird in the last half-century. Story in Living Bird magazine.

Golden-winged Warbler: Conservation Strategy

Golden-winged Warbler: Resources for Landowners and Land Managers



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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