How to help Central Texas’ Golden-cheeked warbler

This tiny Texan is the only known bird to nest entirely in the Lone Star State.

A black, yellow, and white bird on a tree branch.

Although only 4.5 inches long, Golden-cheeked warblers require 5-20 acres of nesting territory.

Photo via U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Warm days, bluebonnets patches, the return of paddle boarders to Lady Bird Lake — Austin, spring is here. And that means a very special Central Texan is making his way home.

The Hill Country’s Golden-cheeked warbler is the only bird who nests entirely in Texas. In honor of his homecoming, we’re telling you a little about the tiny gold-and-black resident.

Little bird, big deal

Golden-cheeked warblers nest in juniper-oak woodlands, especially those in ravines and canyons. They survive on bugs and spiders, and rely on thin strips of cedar bark to build their nests.

The birds may be small — 4.5 inches, to be exact — but they can live a surprisingly long time. The oldest known warbler was recorded as almost 11 years old, before being released back into the wild.

In addition to being highly sought after by birdwatchers, a warbler even played a guest role in the television series “Will & Grace.”

Male warblers return to Central Texas starting in late March, and typically stay until summer time before flying south for their vacation homes in Mexico and Central America.

A shot of the Hill Country hills with the sun in the upper left corner

The Golden-cheeked warbler prefers pristine Hill Country habitat with oak, juniper, and cedar trees. | Photo by ATXtoday


Golden-cheeked warblers are currently on the Endangered Species List, and have been losing their habitat since the late 1800s, as trees were cleared for local development. Although the birds are small, each pair needs a nesting territory of 5-20 acres.

The largest loss has been in Travis, Williamson, and Bexar countiesno surprise there, as the Austin metro population has grown 1,500% since 1950.

Although the bird’s population has grown in recent years, it is still endangered. Here are some ways you can help them:

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