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Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare vertebrate animals, contact:
Rich Staffen
Conservation Biologist
For information on Wisconsin's rare invertebrates, contact:
Jay Watson
Conservation Biologist

Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)



Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) is a Special Concern species in Wisconsin. Although once thought to be associated with early-successional habitats, this species requires a diverse landscape mosaic of habitat types to fulfill all of its life history needs. This habitat mosaic includes brushy forest openings, shrubby wetlands, or brushy grasslands, and adjacent areas of more mature forest. This species builds well-concealed nests on the ground and is considered single-brooded but may re-nest if the initial nest fails. The recommended avoidance period is May 15 - July 31.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - both state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where occurrences of this species meet NHI data standards and is not meant as a comprehensive map of all observations.

Note: Species recently added to the NHI Working List may temporarily have blank occurrence maps.

Documented locations of Vermivora chrysoptera in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.
Summary Information
State StatusSC/M
Federal Status in WisconsinSOC
State RankS3B
Global RankG4
Tracked by NHIY

Species guidance

A guidance document is not available at this time. However, the bird calendar [PDF] contains dates for avoiding impacts to this and other rare Wisconsin birds when planning management activities.



Golden-winged Warbler

Golden-winged warbler, Athlestane Barrens SWA by the Culvert Willows

Photo © Brian Collins.

Golden-winged Warbler

Photo © Laura Erickson.

Golden-winged Warbler

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Golden-winged Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Photo © A.B. Sheldon.

Golden-winged Warbler

The Golden-wingerd Warbler has suffered population declines over much of its range in recent decades. Good numbers still occur in parts of northern and central WI, where it breeds in dense thickets of deciduous shrubs and saplings.

Photo © Lana Hays.

Wildlife Action Plan

Wisconsin Wildlife Action Plan graphic

Natural community (habitat) associations

The table below lists the natural communities that are associated with Golden-winged Warbler. Only natural communities for which Golden-winged Warbler is "high" (score=3) or "moderate" (score=2) associated are shown. See the key to association scores for complete definitions. Please see the Wildlife Action Plan to learn how this information was developed.

Ecological landscape associations

The table below lists the ecological landscape association scores for Golden-winged Warbler. The scores correspond to the map (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None). For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

This map shows the probability of Golden-winged Warbler occurring in each of Wisconsin's Ecological Landscapes.  Actual scores can be found in the table to the left.

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Landscape-Community combinations of highest ecological priority*

Ecological priorities are the combinations of natural communities and ecological landscapes that provide Wisconsin's best opportunities to conserve important habitats for a given Species of Greatest Conservation Need. The 10 highest scoring combinations are considered ecological priorities and are listed below. More than 10 combinations are listed if multiple combinations tied for 10th place. For more information, please see the Wildlife Action Plan.

Ecological LandscapeCommunity
Central Sand Hills Shrub Carr
Central Sand Plains Alder Thicket
Central Sand Plains Northern Wet Forest
Central Sand Plains Shrub Carr
Central Sand Plains Northern Tamarack Swamp
Central Sand Plains White Pine - Red Maple Swamp
Forest Transition Alder Thicket
Forest Transition Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
Forest Transition Northern Wet Forest
Forest Transition Shrub Carr
Forest Transition Northern Tamarack Swamp
North Central Forest Alder Thicket
North Central Forest Aspen-Birch
North Central Forest Northern Hardwood Swamp
North Central Forest Northern Mesic Forest--young seral
North Central Forest Northern Wet Forest
North Central Forest Shrub Carr
North Central Forest Northern Tamarack Swamp
Northeast Sands Alder Thicket
Northeast Sands Aspen-Birch
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Forest--young seral
Northeast Sands Northern Dry Mesic--young seral
Northern Highland Alder Thicket
Northern Highland Aspen-Birch
Northern Highland Northern Dry Mesic--young seral
Northern Highland Northern Wet Forest
Northern Highland Shrub Carr
Northern Highland Northern Tamarack Swamp
Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Shrub Carr
Northwest Lowlands Alder Thicket
Northwest Lowlands Aspen-Birch
Northwest Lowlands Northern Wet Forest
Northwest Lowlands Northern Tamarack Swamp
Northwest Sands Alder Thicket
Northwest Sands Aspen-Birch
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Forest--young seral
Northwest Sands Northern Dry Mesic--young seral
Northwest Sands Northern Wet Forest
Northwest Sands Northern Tamarack Swamp
Southeast Glacial Plains Shrub Carr
Superior Coastal Plain Alder Thicket
Superior Coastal Plain Aspen-Birch
Superior Coastal Plain Shrub Carr

* Ecological priority score is a relative measure that is not meant for comparison between species. This score does not consider socio-economical factors that may dictate protection and/or management priorities differently than those determined solely by ecological analysis. Further, a low ecological priority score does not imply that management or preservation should not occur on a site if there are important reasons for doing so locally.

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Issues/threats and conservation actions

Conservation actions respond to issues or threats, which adversely affect species of greatest conservation need (SGCN) or their habitats. Besides actions such as restoring wetlands or planting resilient tree species in northern communities, research, surveys and monitoring are also among conservation actions described in the WWAP because lack of information can threaten our ability to successfully preserve and care for natural resources.

Threats/issues and conservations actions for rare animals

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Last revised: Thursday, December 22, 2022