How One Small Songbird is Making Big Trouble in Texas

The golden-cheeked warbler may be small (smaller than an ounce, in fact), but it’s creating a big controversy. If developers and military officials convince authorities from the Fish and Wildlife Service to take away the bird’s Endangered Species status, the Texas songbird may be singing a very sad tune

The Golden-Cheeked Warbler “Is All Texas”

As the President and CEO of the National Audubon Society David Yarnold explains in My San Antonio, the warbler “is all Texas.” It’s not just a nice metaphor for the bird’s deep Texas roots. In the United States, the golden-cheeked warbler only breeds and raises young in 33 counties along Texas Hill Country – that’s it.

The golden-cheeked warbler is famous for creating its nests from mature junipers and nesting in junipers and oaks. But there’s bad news: The golden-cheeked warbler isn’t the only one trying to build in Texas Hill Country. Slowly but surely, Texas Hill Country’s junipers and oaks have been bulldozed, and buildings now stand where great trees once grew. Whole woodlands were also cleared for ranching and agriculture, primarily for livestock grazing and fuel wood collection, says the IUCN Red List.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the bird was endangered in 1990. And yet, even with protections, from 1999 to 2011, one-third of the bird’s home range, or 1.5 million acres, disappeared.

The endangered listing has made some improvements. There’s more green space, better water quality and better water conservation. There’s also more natural, recreational space for residents to soak up their natural beauty.

However, many influential people are pushing the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the bird, even though the most recent review said the bird “continues to be in danger of extinction throughout its range.” As reported in The New York Times, Susan Combs, a former Texas comptroller, creator of Texans for Positive Economic Policy and George P. Bush, the son of Jeb Bush and the Texas land commissioner are strong voices for delisting the songbird. Combs tells the New York Times she ”truly believe[s] that they did not have adequate science” when the original decision was made to list the bird as endangered.

Lt. Gen. Sean B. MacFarland, Fort Hood’s commanding general, is another voice in favor of delisting the bird, saying delisting the bird would “benefit Fort Hood both operationally and administratively.” According to the New York Times, the bird’s protection prevents military groups from using grenades near the nests and limits the duration of training operations near nesting habitats.

Take Action!

I’m sure the golden-cheeked warbler protection status is an economic and military inconvenience. But I’m also sure that having its entire habitat cleared for homes and cows to graze on is more than an inconvenience — it’s a death sentence for the species. Please sign and share this petition urging the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to stand firm and keep the golden-cheeked warbler on the Endangered Species list. It’s the best way to save the small Texan songbird from sure doom.

Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters


Mark Donner
Mark Donner2 years ago

"the bird’s protection prevents military groups from using grenades near the nests and limits the duration of training operations near nesting habitats"

Then throw the grenades at each other and at the oil grunts, you Texas redneck losers.

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Dianne D.
Dianne D2 years ago

We don't need anymore development or military taking our lands, but we do need more songbirds.

Virginia Belder
Virginia Belder2 years ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill2 years ago


Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey2 years ago

Good luck to all involved.

Onita Caldwell


Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege2 years ago

Please, please, protect your golden-cheeked warbler. When it's extinct, it will be for ever. I'd be surprised if George P; Bush and Jeb Bush were interested in protecting
the little bird.
To make life easier for the golden-cheeked warbler, it would be nice to plant trees, not just grass.

Marilyn G.
Marilyn G2 years ago

So the entitled just keep marching on, demanding things to be the way they want them. They have no morals or humanity. Ranchers are the worst, with the military right behind them. Imagine chopping down beautiful trees and clearing woodlands so they can have free food for their cattle. And the military, upset because they can't blow up things where they would like to. Ranchers already are decimating the wolf population, the military is deafening and causing the death of whales with their sonar blasts, not to mention torturing animals in medical training. Yes, the influential at their best. Fish and wildlife, just for once, take the side of the animals.

Nena Miller
Nena MILLER2 years ago

Just leave things alone. Every creature figures into our fragile ecosystem.... Which man is trying very hard to destroy!