Golden-winged Warbler

Vermivora chrysoptera
A Golden-winged Warbler specimen on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (5-5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the male Golden-winged Warbler is most easily identified by its gray back, pale breast, yellow crown, black eye and throat patches, and gray wings with conspicuous yellow wing bars. Female Golden-winged Warblers are similar to males, but are somewhat duller overall with a greenish cast on the head and back. This species occasionally hybridizes with the related Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora cyanoptera), producing a dominant hybrid form (“Brewster’s Warbler,” which is pale below and olive green above with the Blue-winged Warbler’s black eye-stripes) and, more rarely, a recessive hybrid form (“Lawrence’s Warbler,” which is yellow below and olive-green above with the Golden-winged Warbler’s black facial markings). The Golden-winged Warbler breeds in portions of the eastern United States and southern Canada from Minnesota east to Massachusetts and from Ontario south to northern Georgia. In winter, this species migrates south to Central America and northern South America. Recently, this species has undergone declines at the southern part of its breeding range, perhaps due to habitat loss and competition with the Blue-winged Warbler. Golden-winged Warblers primarily breed in semi-open woodland habitats, particularly around forest edges, clearings, and places where ecological disturbance (forest fires, for example) has recently occurred. In winter, this species utilizes similar types of habitat in humid tropical forests. Golden-winged Warblers eat a variety of small invertebrates, primarily moths. In appropriate habitat, Golden-winged Warblers may be seen foraging for food on leaves and branches at middle heights in the canopy. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a buzzing “bee-bz-bz-bz” dropping in pitch at the end. Golden-winged Warblers are primarily active during the day.

DC Information

Uncommon migrant in spring from late April to mid-May and in autumn from mid-August to early September. In migration this bird is usually found in floodplain and swamp forests. The parch on the sides of the head and throat is black in the male, gray in the female.

Specimen Information

Date:  8/8/1889
Collected By:  CW Richmond
Locality:  Washington, DC
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  123167

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC16989 Vermivora chrysoptera (Golden-winged Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC31122 Vermivora chrysoptera (Golden-winged Warbler)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC31309 Vermivora chrysoptera (Golden-winged Warbler)