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Migratory Bird Treaty Centennial

In 2016, Wisconsin commemorated a century of bird conservation within and across the state's borders. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources invited citizens to join in celebrating that important milestone by attending bird conservation events, volunteering for bird-related conservation projects, helping birds in local areas, and spending time birding on Wisconsin's scenic public lands.

The beautiful golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) was Wisconsin DNR's Bird of the Month for June 2016. This songbird actually benefited from widespread clearcutting in the 1800s and early 1900s. A bird of young or wet shrubby habitat with scattered trees, the golden-winged warbler began to decline as young forests and thickets aged. Human development in areas with shrub habitat greatly reduced the species in southern Wisconsin, and hybridization with blue-winged warblers was also a problem, especially as blue-winged warblers shifted their range north. Most nesting golden-winged warbler populations in the state currently occupy the aspen and alder thickets of northern Wisconsin. Key points to remember:

  • Wisconsin is home to over 20 percent of the world’s nesting golden-winged warblers, meaning the state has high "stewardship responsibility" for the species.

  • The state's Young Forest Initiative, which seeks to manage young forest habitat for plants and wildlife, is working to improve conditions for golden-winged warblers and other birds such as rose-breasted grosbeaks, brown thrashers, and American woodcock.

  • Recent research has shown golden-wings also use older forest habitats in proximity to their young-forest breeding areas, suggesting that a mosaic of different habitat types may best serve this species.

  • On their wintering sites in Central and South America, these warblers occupy forest canopies, preferably near open areas. Montane forest may also be an important habitat.

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