Plants and Animals

Vermivora chrysoptera Golden-winged warbler

Key Characteristics

Golden-winged warblers are a small slender warbler with a bright golden cap and flashes of gold on their wings. Males have a black throat and black face mask with white stripes above and below the mask. Sexual dimorphism is minor with females having less prominent streaking. Immatures look similar to females. The song of the golden-winged warbler is a constant “bee-buzz buzz” consisting of 5-7 syllables often followed by three to six shorter buzzes.

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: T - Threatened (legally protected)
Global Rank: G4 - Apparently secure
State Rank: S5


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Benzie 1 2021
Crawford 4 2023
Grand Traverse 1 2019
Kalkaska 4 2023
Oceana 3 2014
Otsego 1 2023

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Golden-winged warblers favor brushy habitats and are often found in forest regeneration. They occur in swampy areas dominated by willows and tag alder and in upland areas are often found in areas with aspen regeneration. Unlike their close relative the blue-winged warbler, golden-warblers do not inhabit brushy areas dominated by invasive autumn olive and honeysuckle and will stop using areas once these species have become established. They prefer less dense brush than do blue-winged warblers They nest on the ground in grassy hummocks with under the cover of shrubs.

Natural Community Types

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

No recommendations available.

Active Period

Migration from fourth week of April to fourth week of May

Nesting from fourth week of August to fourth week of September

Survey Methods

Listen for call at observation points

Survey Period: From first week of June to first week of July


Survey References

  • Brewer, R., G. A. McPeek, and R. J. Adams Jr., eds. 1991. The Atlas of Breeding Birds of Michigan. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing. 650pp.
  • Confer, John L., Patricia Hartman and Amber Roth. (2011). Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.