Golden-winged Warbler
(Vermivora chrysoptera)


Picture of bird
© Dan Busby
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Golden-winged Warbler is found in old fields and woodland borders along the southern edge of Canada and mainly in Ontario, where it is at the northern limit of its breeding range. The Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) provides good coverage of this species and suggests a moderate increase in abundance in Canada since 1970. In contrast, the continental population of Golden-winged Warblers has declined steadily. Though only a small portion of the Golden-winged Warbler's North American population breeds in Canada, the small northwestern population in Manitoba is of genetic importance. The species was assessed as Threatened in 2007 under the Species At Risk Act based on large decreases in population between 1996 and 2006 (COSEWIC 2006c). The population in Canada has increased, based on the BBS, and is currently considered within acceptable levels of the national goal as outlined in the Recovery Strategy. However, the on-going decline in the United States is of concern. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2006 
SARA (Canada)Threatened2007 
IUCN (Global)Near threatened2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - red2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate IncreaseMediumAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between mid-May and late May and ends in mid-July, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

The small population of Golden-winged Warbler found in northwestern Manitoba is of genetic importance as it contains the highest proportion of genetically-pure individuals found throughout the species' global range (ECCC 2016).Though now apparently increasing in Canada, the species has declined in the United States. The Golden-winged Warbler's range and abundance increased dramatically over 100 years ago due to logging and clearing of forests for the creation of farmland, it is now declining in several parts of the United States (e.g., Virginia, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania); and has disappeared from some previously occupied regions (Confer et al. 2011). Causes of the decline are primarily thought to be competition and hybridization with the Blue-winged Warbler and habitat loss due to natural succession on its breeding grounds (ECCC 2016, Vallender et al. 2009). Other threats include the loss of open woodlands and shrubby edges on its wintering grounds in Central and South America, and on the breeding grounds (Confer et al. 2011). For information on the legal status of this species in Canada under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to see available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Atlantic Northern ForestsAtlantic Northern Forests, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Other
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation & Stewardship
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Stewardship
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Quebec -- Conservation
Prairie PotholesPrairie Potholes, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other