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Endangered Species Management

The Golden-Cheeked Warbler

The Golden-cheeked Warbler ( Dendroica chrysoparia )has been found in several areas around Lake Georgetown. Since the Golden-cheeked Warbler (GCW) is an endangered species, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has to take special care to protect the birds that are using Corps property.

This warbler receives its name from its golden cheeks that are outlined in black. As with many other birds, the male Golden-cheeked Warbler possesses brighter colors than the female. The male can be distinguished by his black back while the female has a lighter, olive-colored back. The Golden-cheeked Warbler can also be identified by its song which sounds something like a hurried "tweeah, tweeah, tweesy" or "bzzzz, layzee dayzee."

Research continues in an attempt to answer what are the habitat needs of the GCW . Currently, biologists believe that the Golden-cheeked Warbler requires an area of mature oak-Ashe juniper woodlands. The warbler needs the mature Ashe juniper (commonly called cedar) with bark that strips easily for nest material. It feeds on insects that live in the canopy of oak trees and other hardwoods.

The Golden-cheeked Warbler is a migratory bird that nests only in central Texas. The males arrive around mid-March and begin establishing territories. The females arrive around the end of March, and egg-laying begins in early April. Near early July, the warblers fly to the mountainous areas of southern Mexico and to east-central Guatemala through Honduras to Nicaragua.

The main cause for the decline in the GCW is the loss of habitat. One problem facing the GCW is regeneration of the mature oak-Ashe juniper woodlands that the warbler depends upon. Some areas of central Texas where the warbler is found are experiencing an overpopulation of deer and other native herbivores. When the deer feed excessively on young oaks, the oaks are unable to mature to replace oaks as they die.

Most of the warblers found at Lake Georgetown were not near areas of high use. However, the birds have been found along the Good Water Trail in Cedar Breaks Park. During the nesting season, visitors of the trail are requested to take extra care in being quiet and remaining on developed areas of the trail since the birds are susceptible to disturbance.

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