Golden-cheeked Warbler

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Common Name: Golden-cheeked Warbler
Scientific Name: Dendroica chrysoparia

Size: 4.9 inches (12.5cm)

Habitat: North and Central America; local breeder in Edwards Plateau, Lampasas Cut Plain and Central Mineral Region, Texas, USA. It occurs at an average density of 15 males/km2 in c.350 km2 of occupied habitat, and the population was estimated to number 21,000 individuals in 2004. There was a 25% loss in available territories between 1962 and 1981, and the population has clearly declined. It winters in southern Mexico (Chiapas), Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Honduras, where it is uncommon to fairly common. There are recent reports/records from Costa Rica and Panama.

It breeds in juniper-oak woodlands. In winter, it occurs in mixed-species flocks, foraging at sites with a high density of "encino" oaks (in comparison to pines and other oak species) at 1,500-3,000 m.

Status: Endangered. Global Population: 21,000 Mature individuals and decreasing. Breeding habitat is under clearance for land development and agriculture. Fragmentation impairs gene flow and nest survival decreases with increasing forest edge density. However, the main cause of decline may be logging and firewood-extraction, and agricultural conversion for cattle reducing pine-oak habitats in southern Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

In the USA, it is listed as Endangered and has a recovery plan. It occurs in Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge, Texas, where there is a cowbird trapping program and regional habitat conservation plans have been approved or are under development in Travis, Hays, Comal, and Williamson counties, Texas. Various small reserves are managed for the species in Texas. Surveys in 1993-1995 improved knowledge of its wintering distribution. It is known or suspected from Rancho Nuevo and Lagunas de Montebello National Parks, Mexico, Sierra de las Minas Biosphere Reserve, Guatemala, and Celaque, Cusuco and Santa Bárbara National Parks, Honduras. Currently there is an ongoing effort involving Pronatura Sur, Defensores de la Naturaleza, and Salva Natura to gather information on the warbler south of the US, including details on its wintering habitat, and a community education initiative is underway. Surveys to monitor breeding populations are ongoing. The Leon River Restoration Project in central Texas is working on a habitat restoration project with Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo as the primary focus.

Diet: Insects and spiders. Forages by gleaning from foliage and branches, sallying, and hovering at ends of branches. Found often in mixed flocks in winter.

Breeding: Adult male black above with yellow supercilium and cheek-patch split by black eye-stripe extending from bill through eye to rear auricular region where it joins with black nape. Wings black with two white wing-bars and fringing to the flight feathers, black chin, throat and streaks down flanks on white underparts. Female similar but olive to gray streaked black on crown and mantle, chin and centre of throat yellow or white surrounded by variable amounts of black mottling along the sides. Immature drab with indistinct streaking and black eye-stripe.

It breeds in juniper-oak woodlands, where it depends on Juniperus ashei bark for nesting material. 3-5 eggs are laid in late March-mid May.. Eggs are white with dark speckles concentrated around the large end.

Cool Facts: The Golden-cheeked Warbler is the only bird species whose population nests endemically in the state of Texas. Although the warbler breeds in Texas and winters in Mexico and northern Central America, wayward individuals have turned up in Florida, the Virgin Islands, and off the coast of California.

Found in Songbird ReMix Threatened, Endangered, Extinct 3

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