Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Jeffery L. Larkin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Joseph Duchamp, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Thomas Simmons, Ph.D.


The Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) has experienced significant population declines over the past 50 years and is currently a focal species for young forest management in the eastern United States. While bird fitness has been linked to the quality and quantity of insect food supplies, research on Golden-winged Warbler foraging ecology has been limited. I evaluated shrub and tree species selection by foraging Golden-winged Warblers in northcentral Pennsylvania during the 2011 breeding season. Additionally, I compared prey (caterpillar) abundance among 13 woody plant species present within breeding territories. Golden-winged Warblers selectively foraged on black locust, pin cherry, white oak, and Rubus spp. Tree and shrub species composition differed between Golden-winged Warbler territories and adjacent, unoccupied areas of early successional habitat; findings were consistent with patterns of caterpillar abundances. Findings from this research provide land managers with insight for creating breeding habitat that considers the foraging ecology of this imperiled species.