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Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Golden-cheeked Warbler

Class: Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Parulidae

Scientific Name: Setophaga chrysoparia

IUCN Red List status: Endangered

Protected by the following WLT project/s

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Species Range (IUCN)

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The male’s bright facial markings give this species its name, with the gold framed by a black crown, throat and eye stripe. The rest of its colouration also offer high contrast- it has a black upper breast, wings and back, but the lower breast and belly are white. The females show less contrast with olive to grey colouration instead of the male’s stark black, and duller yellow cheeks, and the juveniles are similar but even more drably coloured.


These warblers breed in their native (and endemic) home in Texas, returning to the same breeding territory after their migration each year. They usually nest in the fork of juniper branches with a deep, compact cup nest constructed by the female using bark strips from the juniper trees as well as spidersilk, lichens, mosses, leaves and grass, lined with feathers and hair.

The males court with their buzzing song, plumage puffed up, and occasionally display with spread wings. The female lays 3-5 eggs and incubates them, but both parents feed the nestlings and split the brood to care for once they have fledged. They eat invertebrates caught in juniper foliage or on the wing, and feed their young caterpillars and moths with their wings removed.

Golden-cheeked Warbler


The Golden-cheeked Warbler is endemic to Texas and relies on the Ashe juniper forests there for breeding. They remain here from March to June before migrating with other songbirds down Sierra Madre in Mexico and wintering in Central America: Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras and Mexico.  

Threats and conservation

The Ashe juniper forests which this species relies on for breeding habitat has been under clearance for land development and agriculture for more than two decades. As the size and quality of this habitat has been decreasing, nest success rates have declined. The size and quality of its winter migratory habitats in southern Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras have also been declining due to illegal logging and deforestation for agriculture.

Regional habitat conservation plans in Texas have been approved to restore the native habitat of this species, and efforts are being made to monitor its winter migratory routes to preserve the most important habitats for this species outside the United States.


BirdLife International. 2016. Setophaga chrysoparia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22721692A94724154. 

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