The first golden-winged I saw today was foraging actively in a blooming small willow next to the road where I stopped. Several times it hung upside-down to pick off an insect, all the while singing frequently its bee-buzz-buzz-buzz song. There is considerable concern for the population of this Neotropical migrant. Cornell's Lab of Ornithology has a significant study underway to better determine its population status and its habitat and area requirements; this atlas project is being coordinated in WI by Amber Roth with terrific help from the likes of Ron Hull. It is hoped that areas will be identified that are particularly important for golden-winged conservation. As Amber described at this year's annual WSO convention, it inhabits early succession habitats like young aspen and also wetland shrub habitats.
The BBS data show a declining population here in MN as well as in WI; the annual decline in the US is a statistically significant 3.6%. The Breeding Bird Atlas project in WI showed the species exhibited some breeding behavior in 38% of the state's quads, with a definite northern affinity, especially in the northwestern third of this northern range. The farthest south they were confirmed breeding was in the Cedarburg Bog, just around the corner from my residence. This is a species that will receive considerable attention from the WBCI (Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative), so stay tuned for developments.
As I write this, I'm remembering the first 2 golden-wingeds that I saw - the first was in lower Michigan while in college (also saw prairie-chickens in MI on that trip) and in a cemetery in Cincinnati on a warbler migration field trip later that spring.