|Conservation status||Very localized in range, now threatened by loss of habitat and by heavy parasitism of nests by cowbirds.|
|Habitat||Junipers, oaks; also streamside trees. Habitat specialist during the nesting season. Breeds on hillsides and slopes in mature woods of Ashe juniper, especially brakes of junipers 10-20' tall interspersed with deciduous trees such as oak, walnut, pecan, and hackberry. In winter in the tropics, found in mountain pine-oak forests.|
During the breeding season, forages in the upper two-thirds of junipers and deciduous trees, apparently never on the ground. Most common method of feeding is gleaning insects in juniper foliage, hopping among the branches. Also makes short flights out to catch flying insects. Beats caterpillars on branch and removes moth wings before eating or feeding to young.
3-4, sometimes 5. White to creamy, with flecks of brown concentrated at large end. Incubation by female only, 12 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 9 days after hatching. Parents split up the fledglings, each adult caring for part of brood for 4-7 weeks. 1 brood per year.
Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 9 days after hatching. Parents split up the fledglings, each adult caring for part of brood for 4-7 weeks. 1 brood per year.
Almost entirely insects. Feeds on caterpillars, green lacewings, small cicadas, beetles, ants, katydids, walking sticks, deer flies, crane flies, moths, aphids, true bugs, and others; also spiders.
Males return to breeding grounds about middle of March. Females follow about 5 days later. Both sexes faithful to site, returning to previous year's breeding territory. In courtship, male fluffs feathers, and calls; occasionally displays by facing female and spreading wings. Nest: Female chooses site, usually in fork of juniper branches, sometimes in small oak, walnut, or pecan tree. Deep, compact, open cup nest, constructed by the female, always made of bark strips from the Ashe juniper. Also can include spiderweb, lichens, mosses, leaves, and grass. Nest lined with rootlets, feathers, and hair.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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An early migrant in both spring and fall, arriving in Texas in March, departing mostly in August. Apparently migrates north and south through mountains of eastern Mexico. Single strays have reached California and Florida.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA buzzy zee, zoo, zeedee, zeep.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Golden-cheeked Warbler
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Climate threats facing the Golden-cheeked Warbler
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