Across their breeding range, golden-wings are associated with a number of open, early-successional habitats with herbaceous cover (grasses and forbs), patchy shrub cover and scattered trees. In Virginia these may include old fields, lightly-grazed pastures, regenerating clearcuts or cut-overs, young forests and shrubby wetlands (Wilson et al. 2007, Bulluck and Harding 2010). A 2010 study in Highland and Bath counties demonstrated that the birds prefer sites where >50% of woody cover is spatially clustered, or clumped (Bulluck and Harding 2010). This woody cover often includes a low shrub layer such as blackberry (Bulluck and Harding 2010). Contributing to the uniqueness of golden-wing habitat is that these shrubby open patches are embedded within a forested landscape, and in Virginia occur at elevations >1500 ft (Wilson et al. 2007).
Golden-winged Warbler banner image by Bill Hubick