National Geographic Magazine/Volume 31/Number 4/Friends of Our Forests/Golden-winged Warbler

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The Warblers of North America[edit]

Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera)[edit]

Male and Female

Range: Breeds in Alleghanian Zone from central Minnesota, southern Ontario, and Massachusetts south to southern Iowa, northern Illinois, northern Indiana, northern New Jersey, and northern Georgia; winters from Guatemala to Colombia.

Though less gaudily colored than certain others of our warblers, the golden-wing ranks high in the family for beauty, and its trim form and tastefully contrasted tints of gray, black, and yellow may well excite admiration. It is almost wholly limited to eastern States, rarely indeed being found west of the Mississippi, and its summer haunts are in the northern parts of its range. Though common in some localities, the golden-wing in most places is sufficiently rare always to interest the bird observer, and in Massachusetts if several are heard or seen in a long tramp the day may well be esteemed a red-letter day. The bird is to be looked for in deciduous timber, and is especially fond of elms and birches as hunting grounds. I have often seen it busy in elms so high up that only with difficulty could it be distinguished from the Tennessee, Nashville, and other strikingly different warblers in company with it. Like the blue-wing, it has the habit of clinging to the tip of a branch or cluster of flowers, back downward, examining the spot with the most exact scrutiny.

Once heard, its song is not to be forgotten nor mistaken for that of any other warbler, unless possibly the blue-wing. It possesses a buzzing, insectlike quality and is well represented to my ears by the syllables ze-ze-ze-ze, the latter notes in a higher pitch. It seems strange that a bird so distinctly arboreal in habits should choose to nest on the ground; but numerous nests of the golden-wing have been found, all of them practically on or a few inches from the earth, though usually supported by weed stalks or grass stems.

Source: Henry W. Henshaw (April 1917), “Friends of Our Forests”, The National Geographic Magazine 31(4): 306. (Illustration from p. 308.)