Golden-Cheeked Warbler


About Them: This is a small bird with black, white and yellow coloring. It has yellow on its cheek as per the name. The black is on its wings, around its collar, caps its head, down its tail and in a line through its eye from beak to the back of its cheek. Then it has white wing bars and a white belly with black flank streaking.

They have a very small band of territory. They only come into the US within Texas, using the middle of Texas for their old growth Juniper groves to breed. Then it travels through Mexico to wintering grounds in southern Mexico and through Northern Central America.

Their plight: They breed in highly desirable land for urban development. Texas is seeing a boom in population and they want to build more houses and commercial real estate. Developers are now regularly challenging the warbler’s listing as endangered. There are actually a large number of breeding pairs, over 10,000 many more than the Kirtland’s Warbler, 2,000, which is under discussion of delisting. I believe the reason for the Golden-Cheeked Warbler being kept on this list is because, Texas is being more aggressive in their land use than Michigan and other Great Lake states are (the only place the Kirtland’s Warbler breeds).

What we should consider: Humans often charge ahead in plans without thinking about later consequences. We often will take short terms gains without worry about long term loss also money usually trumps the natural world. The Endangered Species Act is acting as the conscious of these developers saying trust us we know it is frustrating, but you will be glad you didn’t wipe out all of the old growth forest. That is hard for some to see in the face of ‘progress’.

Where I live, I am glad California has a deep system of open spaces and refuges throughout the bay area. It is really complicated with a housing crisis, but the bay area is also the home to hundreds of species. I believe every living thing has a right to the land. Humans are smart and are able to build what we need. I’m sure if we actually tried to reach compromises and sort through the layers of complication that are human made limits we could find answers that would leave the open space for nature and solve the human problems. 

What is being done: The Golden-Cheeked Warbler is on the Endangered Species List in the US and on the Partners in Flight Watch list which includes other countries. There are many people continuing to fight for this bird to remain protected to ensure critical habitat is maintained. They also are benefactors of a cowbird maintenance program that captures and limits the cowbirds’ range of brood parasitism. Cowbirds used to have a more limited range amongst bird species that evolved with them. After we moved in large cattle herds Cowbirds were able to expand and use the nests of birds that can’t handle the extra burden that leads to nest failure for warbler young.

How to help: Support Texas conservationists as they continue fighting for this bird to have protected habitat. Consider what house you are buying, don’t buy into developments that use clear cutting, which is basically an apocalypse on the land for any other living things that were there.

Continue bringing awareness. Call into state senators when legislation is being passed that could affect the continued support of policy that protects wildlife, land and waterways. Support locally.

Support can be:

  • visit local preserves and refuges
  • donating to science groups
  • helping to ensure funding to the organizations that creating breeding programs
  • being a citizen scientist through
    • land restoration project
    • trash clean ups
    • species counts
    • bio blitzes
  • getting people you know excited about how incredible our planet’s biodiversity is.

Joining your local Audubon Society or other local conservation group is a great first step into finding activities and ways to become a citizen scientist and environmental advocate.

Further Reading, my sources:

[This is a blog of my opinions. I speak for myself. I am a one person team and if I have misinterpreted a fact or made an error please feel free to get in touch to correct me. I will make edits and updates to post. I would appreciate corrections to be polite. I will not engage in hate.]