Golden-cheeked Warblers (GCWA) are beginning to arrive within their Hill Country haunts. The folks at Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center reported at least one GCWA on the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve on 5 March 2021 – right on time. Many more of these birds will arrive over the next couple of weeks.

The Golden-cheeked’s scientific name, Setophaga chrysoparia, translates to golden cheek moth eater; moth eater describing the genus which now includes most New World warblers. This federally endangered songbird is an attractive member of the wood-warbler family (Parulidae) and is a Texas breeding endemic – meaning every individual is a native Texan. Golden-cheeked Warblers are overwhelmingly reliant upon that special Hill Country habitat association of mature juniper-hardwood forests, typically with high levels of canopy cover, a diverse deciduous component, and occurring along moderate to steep slopes.

Read more from Romey Swanson with Modern Texas Naturalist here.