Status review for golden-winged warbler

Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that a petition requesting the listing of the golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act presented substantial information that listing may be warranted (Federal Register, June 2, pp. 31920-31926). The petition was submitted as a class project by a third-year law student at the Dickinson School of Law at Penn State University.

The golden-winged warbler is a small bird that breeds in North America and winters in Central and South America. The northern portion of the breeding range extends into southern Canada (from southwestern Quebec to eastern Saskatchewan) and spreads south into Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan. An eastern portion of the breeding range includes parts of the Appalachians (Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee) and portions of Kentucky, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York. It is also found in low numbers in Connecticut, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The warbler largely depends on early-successional habitats as breeding sites including abandoned farmlands, powerline cuts, recently logged sites, and locations along stream borders.

The petition suggests that loss of early successional habitat is a factor that has contributed significantly to declining population trends throughout the species’ range. In the Notice, the Service concurred with this assertion and indicated that early successional habitat has been lost due to changes in agricultural practices, forest maturation, land development, wetland destruction and loss, and lack of natural disturbance events. The Service also indicates that winter habitat for the warbler is affected by increasing deforestation and migrating individuals are impacted by the increasing number of communication towers. Other factors potentially affecting the warbler include interactions with the blue-winged warblers, nest parasitism by the brown-headed cowbird, and inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms.

Because of the information in the petition, the agency announced that it was initiating a status review for the species. Based on this review, the agency will issue a 12-month finding on the petition and address whether the petitioned action is warranted. 

Contact information