Soon the birds will be back and I can see them again.
Golden-cheeked Warbler comes home
Jim and Lynn Weber, NatureWatch
Tweeh-tweeh-tweeh-TWEE-sy! Can you hear it? Early March marks the return of the golden-cheeked warbler to the Texas Hill Country.
This beautiful neotropical warbler spends its winters in the forests of Central America and its summers in fewer than 40 counties in South Central Texas. Sadly, this unique bird is one of more than 200 species of migratory birds whose survival is threatened by the destruction of native habitat — in both its winter and summer ranges — because of agriculture and development.
The golden-cheeked warbler (formerly Dendroica chrysoparia now Setophaga chrysoparia) is a 4- to 5-inch-long songbird with dark gray upper parts and white underparts with thick black streaks on its sides. Its head has a black cap and throat, bright yellow "cheeks" and a dark eye-line. Dark wings with two white wingbars complete the brightly colored male, while the female is duller with olive-green upper parts, a streaked cap, and a generally white throat.
This warbler is totally dependent on mixed woodlands of oak and stands of old-growth ashe juniper (colloquially called ‘cedars') for nesting habitat, just like those found in the ravines and canyons that surround our neighborhoods on the western side of Austin. This unique habitat provides the warbler with long strips of peeling bark from the mature Ashe Juniper trees, and they use them, along with spider webs, to construct their nests.
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