Editor’s note: In 1916, the United States and Canada signed the Migratory Bird Treaty to protect birds across state and national borders. To celebrate 100 years of bird conservation, each month will feature a native Wisconsin bird species that has benefited from the protection and cooperative conservation set forth in the Migratory Bird Treaty. For more information on the Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial and other Birds of the Month, visit dnr.wi.gov, keyword “bird treaty.”
June’s Bird of the Month is the golden-winged warbler. This songbird actually benefited from widespread clear-cutting in the 1800s and early 1900s. A bird of young or wet shrubby habitat with scattered trees, the golden-winged warbler began to decline as young forests and thickets aged. Human development in areas with shrub habitat greatly reduced the species in southern Wisconsin, and hybridization with blue-winged warblers is also a key issue, especially as blue-winged warblers shift their range north. Most nesting golden-winged warbler populations in the state currently occupy the aspen and alder thickets of northern Wisconsin.
- Wisconsin is home to over 20% of the world’s nesting golden-winged warblers, meaning we have high “stewardship responsibility” for this species.
- The Young Forest Initiative, which seeks to manage young forest habitat for plants and wildlife, is working to improve conditions for golden-winged warblers and other birds such as rose-breasted grosbeak, brown thrasher, and American woodcock.
- Recent research has shown golden-winged warblers also use older forest habitats in proximity to breeding areas, suggesting a mosaic of habitat types may best serve this species.
- On their wintering sites in Central and South America, these warblers occupy forest canopies, preferably near open habitat. Montane forest may also be an important habitat.