Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Dendroica
Species: D. chrysoparia

The Golden-cheeked Warbler (Dendroica chrysoparia) is a small endangered (since May 4, 1990) songbird that breeds only in Texas hill country (central Texas--chiefly the eastern portion of the Edwards Plataeu, but extending as far north as Dallas County, Texas). Winters are spent in Chiapas Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The males return from their winter vacation in early March. Roughly one week later, the females show up, just as yummy, yummy insects begin to hatch.

The birds are roughly 4.25-5 inches long with a bright yellow face. The wings and tail are black with white markings. The males sport a black crown and eyeline, throat/bib, and breast and white with black streaks below. Females have olive green crowns with black streaks along the top and a varying amount of black smudges on their white breast and throat.

These warblers like to build their nests about 10-20 feet above the ground using bark from mature mountain cedar (ashe juniper), which is long and stringy and peels easily from the tree.

Because they like mature ashe juniper and a closed canopy, while the Black-capped Vireo likes open grasslands mixed with low shrubs, people consider their habitats mutually exclusive in a single spot (that's what they told us at the Austin Balcones Canyonland Preserve), but at the Travis County BCP, they've seen them living together, so this past week while we cleared ashe juniper to create habitat for the Vireo, we left roughly 20% of the cedar to allow both species to take advantage of the same territory.

The threats to the warbler are pretty much the same old story: loss (and fragmentation) of habitat, thanks to human development. Some new predators have shown up: red invasive fire ants, feral cats, and blue jays (native to east Austin, but not west Austin). The Texas Rat Snake seems to enjoy the urban fringe and eating warblers (or their eggs), so again human development is a bother, even beyond where we build. Additionally, no wolves = many deer = all the oak saplings being eaten. Lastly, invasive plants where the yummy insects can't breed can diminish the food supply for the warbler.


Notes from visiting the three BCPs, Wikipedia, and

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