Male. Note: yellow crown and black throat and auriculars.
  • Male. Note: yellow crown and black throat and auriculars.
  • Female. Note: greenish yellow crown and yellowish wingpatch.

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Golden-winged Warbler

Vermivora chrysoptera
Members of this diverse group make up more than half of the bird species worldwide. Most are small. However their brains are relatively large and their learning abilities are greater than those of most other birds. Passerine birds are divided into two suborders, the suboscines and the oscines. Oscines are capable of more complex song, and are considered the true songbirds. In Washington, the tyrant flycatchers are the only suboscines; the remaining 27 families are oscines.
This large group of small, brightly colored songbirds is a favorite of many birdwatchers. Wood-warblers, usually called “warblers” for short by Americans, are strictly a New World family. Most of the North American members of this group are migratory, returning in the winter to the tropics where the family originated. Warblers that nest in the understory tend to have pink legs and feet, while those that inhabit the treetops usually have black legs and feet. North American males are typically brightly colored, many with patches of yellow. Most North American warblers do not molt into a drab fall/winter plumage; the challenge posed to those trying to identify warblers in the fall results from looking at mostly juvenile birds. Their songs are generally dry, unmusical, often complex whistles (“warbles”). Warblers that live high in the treetops generally have higher-pitched songs than those that live in the understory. Warblers eat insects gleaned from foliage or captured in the air. Many supplement their insect diet with some seeds and fruit, primarily in fall and winter, and some also eat nectar. Most are monogamous. The female usually builds the nest and incubates four to five eggs for up to two weeks. Both members of the pair feed the young.
  • Species of Concern

General Description

The male is gray overall with a yellow patch on the wing, black mask bordered by white, black throat, and yellow crown; the female is similar but less strongly marked. This species nests from southern Manitoba eastward across the northern tier of states and southern Ontario to New England, and southward in the Appalachians to northern Georgia; it winters from southern Mexico to Colombia. Like the Blue-winged Warbler—a close relative with which it hybridizes where their ranges meet—the Golden-winged is a trans-Gulf migrant, and hence one of the rarest vagrant “eastern” warblers in the West. Oregon has two accepted records, Idaho one, and British Columbia none. Washington’s single accepted record was netted and banded at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge (Spokane County) on 20 August 1998.

Revised August 2007

North American Range Map

North America map legend

Federal Endangered Species ListAudubon/American Bird Conservancy Watch ListState Endangered Species ListAudubon Washington Vulnerable Birds List
Yellow List

View full list of Washington State's Species of Special Concern