New York Natural Heritage Program
Golden-winged Warbler
Vermivora chrysoptera (Linnaeus, 1766)
Birds

Conservation Overview [-]
Golden-winged Warblers require shrubby early successional habitat to breed, and this habitat is diminishing due to succession or development in some regions in New York. They are also threatened by hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers (Confer et al. 2011). Management guidelines to promote habitat in the Appalachian and Great Lakes regions are available for landowners at http://www.gwwa.org/plan.html (Golden-winged Warbler Working Group 2013).

Threats [-]
Declines in the regional abundance of Golden-winged Warblers are correlated with the replacement of early successional habitat by second growth forest (Levine 1998) and the expansion of the Blue-winged Warbler into their range (Gill 1980). Gill (1987) noted the tendency for Blue-winged Warblers to replace Golden-winged Warblers within 50 years after a range expansion.
For New York, habitat loss and hybridization are also the major threats to the persistence of this species. Early successional habitats are ephemeral by nature and have been in dramatic decline in New York over the last century due to succession and development or conversion (NYSDEC 2005). Historic losses of shrubby wetlands in New York through the 1970s also likely impacted this species (NYSDEC 2005; Buehler et al. 2007). Hybridization with Blue-winged Warblers happens readily between adjoining populations in the state. This likely affects more than half of the statewide population and is a significant cause of decline. However, there has been a population of coexisting Blue and Golden-winged Warblers found in swamps in the Hudson Highlands (Confer and Knapp 1981; McGowan and Corwin 2008).
Nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds (Molothrus ater) is also a threat, particularly in the more agricultural regions of northern-central New York, where they are more abundant (Confer et al. 2003; Sauer et al. 2014).
Habitat loss on wintering grounds and mortality during migration are threats during the nonbreeding season. High rates of collision with towers during migration have been reported for this species (Arnold and Zink 2011).

Conservation Strategies and Management Practices [-]
Where wooded and shrub swamps provide habitat for Golden-winged Warblers, the replacement of native tussock sedge by invasive Phragmites may be a concern (Confer et al. 2011). In these instances control of Phragmites is warranted (Confer et al. 2011). The Golden-winged Warbler Working Group (2013) has developed best management practices for land owners and managers in the Appalachian and Great Lakes Region that are available online at http://www.gwwa.org/plan.html. In focal areas targeted for managment, characteristics to manage for include patches of at least 5-25 acres (depending on distance to nearest population) in a shifting mosaic of early successional habitat, with 30-70% clumped shrub/sapling cover, patches of herbs and grasses, widely interspersed trees, and high within-patch heterogeneity.

Research Needs [-]
A long-term monitoring program is needed for Golden-winged Warblers in New York, especially targeted to areas of the state where they are still common and on the front of the Blue-winged Warbler range expansion (NYSDEC 2005). Continued research into habitat management techniques that favor Golden-winged over Blue-winged Warblers is also needed, as well as a statewide management plan for restoring, maintaining, and enhancing early successional habitat (NYSDEC 2005). Research to investigate nesting success is needed in conjunction with habitat management research to ensure that the habitats produced are not only favorable to Golden-winged Warblers, but also enable high rates of nest success so the creation of sinks can be avoided (Kubel and Yahner 2008; Confer et al. 2011). Also, research into the effects of the invasive viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni) on shrubland habitats and the species that rely on them may be pertinent (NYSDEC 2005).

Regional Conservation Needs [-]
The Comprehensive Wildlife Conservation Strategy for New York (NYSDEC 2005) cited several action items that would be beneficial for early successional species such as the Golden-winged Warbler, in regions of New York where they are still relatively abundant. These items include working with owners of utility rights-of-way to best manage the early successional habitat that they provide, increasing the amount of early successional habitat on public and private lands, and the use of prescribed fire to create early successional habitat in fire adapted systems.