Vermivora chrysoptera

Status:  Uncommon regular spring migrant east, rare casual central and west. Rare casual fall migrant east, accidental central and west.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM16966, 15 May 1993 Lincoln, Lancaster Co (Brogie 1997).

Taxonomy:  No subspecies are recognized (Pyle 1997).

This species hybridizes frequently with Blue-winged Warbler V. cyanoptera. For discussion, see…d-warbler-hybrid/.

Changes since 2000: There has been a noticeable increase in numbers of spring migrants coincident with increases in populations in the western portions of the species breeding range (Sauer et al 2017), especially Manitoba (Confer et al 2020).

Spring:  May 3, 4, 4 <<<>>> May 22, 23, 23

Later dates are 28 May 1997 Lancaster Co, and 6 Jun 1992 Keith Co (Brown et al 1996).

There are few reports away from the east, the single Panhandle record a singing male in Dawes Co 23 May 1997. Other westerly reports are 11 May 1991 Keith Co (Rosche 1994), 15 May 1998 Clear Creek WMA, Garden Co, 17 May 1955 Keith Co, one photographed 17 May 2008 Lake Ogallala, Keith Co, and 6 Jun 1992 Keith Co (Brown et al 1996).

Most reports of this species are recent; there were no reports until one was reported in Adams Co 17 May 1954, and there were only about 30 reports through 1992. There has been a marked increase in numbers in recent years, beginning with a major incursion in 1993 when there were 14 reports involving 15 birds, most at Fontenelle Forest (Grzybowski 1993). Most years since, 5-15 have been reported; 2016 was a banner year, with reports of 29 individuals and 27-29 were reported in 2018 and 2021, but these numbers were dwarfed by the 45 reported in spring 2020. These recent increases in numbers reflect a continuing increase in the breeding population in Manitoba, where it was “very rare” as a breeder in the 1950s (Confer et al 2020).

  • High counts: 5 at Fontenelle Forest 14 May 2016, 5 there 12 May 2018, and 5 there 12 May 2019.

Fall: There are only about 39 fall reports; documented records among these are 3 Sep-2 Oct. Of the 39 fall records, four were in 2016, two in 2018, and three in both 2019 and 2020. There is a tendency for fall migration routes to be further east than in spring (Confer et al 2020).

The only reports away from the Missouri River Valley are the single Panhandle record, 14 Sep 1997 in Sowbelly Canyon, Sioux Co, 2-3 Oct 2010 Enders Reservoir, Chase Co, and 7 Sep 1973 Thomas Co (Williams 1974). Northernmost in the Missouri River Valley are 6 Sep 2016, singles in both Knox and Cedar Cos, and 11 Sep 1995 Washington Co (Grzybowski 1996).


UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
WMA: Wildlife Management Area (State)


Photograph (top) of a Golden-winged Warbler at Fontenelle Forest, Sarpy Co 10 May 2011 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited

Brogie, M.A. 1997. 1996 (Eighth) Report of the NOU Records Committee. NBR 65: 115-126.

Brogie, M.A., and M.J. Mossman. 1983. Spring and summer birds of the Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska: An annotated checklist. NBR 51: 44-51.

Brown, C.R., M.B. Brown, P.A. Johnsgard, J. Kren, and W.C. Scharf. 1996. Birds of the Cedar Point Biological Station area, Keith and Garden Counties, Nebraska: Seasonal occurrence and breeding data. Transactions of the Nebraska Academy of Sciences 23: 91-108.

Confer, J.L., P. Hartman, and A. Roth. 2020. Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Falk, L. 2002. Birds in Otoe County. Published by the author, Nebraska City, Nebraska, USA.

Grove, D.S. 2019. The Identification of the Burket Triple Hybrid- a Brewster’s/Chestnut-sided Warbler. Pennsylvania Birds 33: 223-225.

Grzybowski, J.A. 1993. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 47: 426-429.

Grzybowski, J.A. 1996. Southern Great Plains Region. Field Notes 50: 74-77.

Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.

Rosche, R.C. 1994. Birds of the Lake McConaughy area and the North Platte River valley, Nebraska.  Published by the author, Chadron, Nebraska, USA.

Sauer, J.R., D.K. Niven, J.E. Hines, D.J. Ziolkowski, Jr, K.L. Pardieck, J.E. Fallon, and W.A. Link. 2017.  The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966 – 2015 (Nebraska).  Version 2.07. USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Maryland, USA.

Toews, D.P.L., S.A. Taylor, R. Vallender, A. Brelsford, B.G. Butcher, P.W. Messer, and I.J. Lovette. 2016. Plumage Genes and Little Else Distinguish the Genomes of Hybridizing Warblers. Current Biology 26: 2313-2318.

Williams, F. 1974. Southern Great Plains Region. American Birds 28: 70-76.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen.  2021.  Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 12 Jun 2021