Golden-winged Warblers

The Golden-winged Warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera, is a New World warbler, 11.6 cm long and weighing 8.5 g.

Distribution / Range

It breeds in eastern North America in southeastern Canada and the eastern USA. Its range is extending northwards, but in the south it is being replaced by the very closely related Blue-winged Warbler, Vermivora pinus.

It is migratory, wintering in southern Central America. This is a very rare vagrant to western Europe, with a single record of a bird wintering in a supermarket car park in Maidstone, Kent in 1989.


The breeding male Golden-winged Warbler is unmistakable. It is gray above and whitish below. The crown and wing patches are yellow and the eye mask and throat are black, separated by white.

Golden-winged Warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera, South Padre Island, TX (04/25/13)

Females are duller, with the black of the face pattern replaced by gray.

This species forms two distinctive hybrids with Blue-winged Warbler where their ranges overlap in the Great Lakes and New England area. The commoner, genetically dominant Brewster’s Warbler is gray above and whitish (male) or yellow (female) below. It has a black eyestripe and two white wingbars.

The rarer recessive Lawrence’s Warbler has a male plumage which is green and yellow above and yellow below, with white wing bars and the same face pattern as male Golden-winged. The female is gray above and whitish below with two yellow wing bars and the same face pattern as female Golden-winged.

Golden-winged Warbler, Vermivora chrysoptera, Cartago Province, Costa Rica

Nesting / Breeding

The breeding habitat is open scrubby areas. Golden-winged Warblers nest on the ground or low in a bush, laying 4-5 eggs in a cup nest.

Diet / Feeding

These birds feed on insects, and spiders.

Call / Vocalization

The song is a trilled bzzzz buzz buzz buzz. The call is a sharp chip.

Photo of author

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