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First Advisor

David S. Maehr


The golden-winged warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) inhabits lower elevations on reclaimed surface mines in Kentucky, an indication of recent range expansion in this imperiled species. In 2004 and 2005, I compared breeding habitat between the golden-winged warbler and blue-winged warbler (V. pinus) in eastern Kentucky at landscape, territory, and nest site scales. Distance to forest edge averaged 38 m for the golden-winged warbler and 33 m for the blue-winged warbler. Maximum territory size averaged 1.5 ha for the golden-winged warbler and 2.1 ha for the blue-winged warbler. The golden-winged warbler occurred at higher elevations (up to 912 m) than the blue-winged warbler (up to 693 m). Golden-winged warblers occurred on flatter slopes when coexisting with bluewinged warblers. A higher percentage of grass cover occurred in golden-winged warbler territories where blue-winged warblers were absent compared to territories of either species where the two coexisted. Golden-winged warblers coexisting with blue-winged warblers were more often found in shrub cover than when they established territories in absence of blue-winged warblers. Management for the golden-winged warbler should focus on enhancement of transition zones between forest edges and open grasslands, especially at higher elevations.