by Sharon Petzinger, NJDEP Division of Fish & Wildlife

A golden-winged warbler found to be breeding in New Jersey. photo by David Kenny

A series of research articles on Golden-winged Warblers were published in the book “Golden-winged Warbler Ecology, Conservation, and Habitat Management”.  The fourteen chapters in this book range from the distribution and status of the Golden-winged Warbler throughout its breeding and wintering range to research on the breeding grounds (habitat use, fledgling survival, nest site selection, hybridization) to wintering and migratory stopover habitat, and finishes with a synthesis of the new research and future directions.

The chapter titled “Space and Habitat Use of Breeding Golden-winged Warblers in the Central Appalachian Mountains” analyzed breeding territories of individual male Golden-winged Warblers — which is the area the male actively defends — and also tracked them with radio telemetry to find and analyze their home ranges. Male Golden-winged Warblers moved >660 feet and up to 0.9 miles beyond their territories into different forest stand ages (range 20-110 years) which contained canopy gaps and heterogeneous vegetation structure. The territories for Golden-winged warblers in this study averaged about 5 acres in size(range 1.6 – 11.8 acres), which is similar to breeding territories in NJ, while the home ranges averaged about 22.25 acres (range 3.5 – 119 acres). Home ranges had about twice the number of trees and a higher percent cover of saplings and taller shrubs (>3.3 ft) than territories. Based on this research, current conservation plans, which focused primarily on breeding territories and the amount of forest in the surrounding landscape, don’t fully capture the complexity of forest structure on a property-scale (or other sub-landscape scale) level needed to support a metapopulation of breeding golden-winged warblers.

The chapter can be read by clicking here.