If you’re lucky, you might spot the Golden-cheeked Warbler on its breeding grounds in central Texas at this time of year. The snazzy-looking adult male is particularly striking, with a golden-yellow eyebrow and cheek-patch, split by a black eyeipe that joins its black nape and back.
The Golden-cheeked Warbler depends on the bark of the Ashe juniper for nesting material and tends to forage in deciduous oaks. Its ideal habitat consists of mixed juniper-oak woodlands.
Major threats are habitat fragmentation and degradation caused by ranches and housing developments, the effects of global climate change, lack of prescribed fire, which clears the forest understory to provide habitat, and removal of Ashe juniper trees. Habitat fragmentation compounds the impact of additional threats such as cowbird parasitism, overbrowsing by deer, and the spread of oak wilt fungus.
ABC is determined to ensure the species’ survival at both ends of its range. The ABC-led Oaks and Prairies Joint Venture is coordinating with partners to enhance habitat management programs on the Golden-cheeked’s breeding grounds. ABC’s Quercus and Aves Program has worked to conserve and expand threatened oak woodland in its wintering range, and ABC’s Migratory Bird Program has begun a habitat protection program at the El Jaguar Reserve in Nicaragua that could benefit this attractive species.