It's a New Day

June 2020

Vol. 48, No. 3

Vermont's Golden-winged Warblers: Half of the Vermivora Story

Steven Lamonde and Mark LaBarr

A male Golden-winged Warbler sports a temporary, lightweight nanotag that sends out a coded radio signal. Photograph by Steven Lamonde.

Just a few decades ago, Golden-winged Warblers were thought to have disappeared from all of New England. Thanks to recent volunteer surveys and scientific studies over the past eight years by Audubon Vermont and partnering institutions, a modest population of Golden-winged Warblers has been documented in Vermont's Champlain Valley. This near-endangered species' geographic range forms two disjunct populations—one in the central highlands of the Appalachian Mountains and one surrounding the Great Lakes. Breeding Bird Survey data exhibit a 66% decline in Golden-winged Warbler populations, making it one of the fastest declining songbird species in North America. Its at-risk population status promotes the bird as a flagship species for conservation of early-successional forest habitat, the preferred habitat of Golden-winged Warblers and other cohabitating species of greatest conservation need in Vermont, such as Brown Thrasher, Field Sparrow, Prairie Warbler, and Eastern Towhee.

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