Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Harbinger of Spring: The Prothonotary Warbler

One of the sure signs of spring in the midwest is the beautiful little Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea). Being an avid kayaker in local backwoods areas, it is always a thrill to be kayaking and hear the Prothonotary warbler calling out, announcing it's return.

It often sings from high in the trees and being small, it can be difficult to spot among the newly emerged leaves. But keeping an eye towards where the repeated call originates will eventually lead one to seeing the beautiful little bird as it quickly flits around.

Here are a few images I've managed to catch of this little warbler, all from "Rubber Ducky", my trusty kayak:

I often find the Prothonotary Warbler on poison ivy vines, looking for insects that may be hiding underneath the leaves of the plant:

It is fun to watch the warbler foraging for insects and worms ... and they have a good track record of being able to find them!

And then there's nesting. This little guy is collecting moss and small plantlife from among the many downed trees in the creek, and then carrying this nest material to the nest, a cavity in a nearby tree:

But he will occasionally stop to sing his cheerful little song to me as I drift about in the kayak:

These little guys tend to be territorial and will often fight to defend their territory:

But in the end, it's time to sing once again:

I think you will agree this is quite a pleasant sight, especially after a long, cold winter!


  1. Jim, Prothonotary Warblers are very beautiful birds and your images showcase that beauty! I couldn't pick a favorite image because I like them all~

  2. Amazing photos of Prothonotary Warbler. You have done a fantastic job! The bird is really a beauty.

  3. Great shots...that strong yellow is amazing! Here we do not have such birds at all...
    Thank you

  4. Where you were kayaking? The story behind how you got those images would be interesting to hear because the angles don't look like you are in a kayak. Curious. My favorite is the second down, with the male in a full throated song, mandibles apart. The images contrast markedly with the second from the bottom with two males fighting, one of them looking aggressive and angry in the eye.

    Interesting how the songs of birds are so relaxing and beautiful to us and yet are a serious stressful challenge for the birds.

  5. Brilliant photographs of a most stunning bird! Jim, your fabulous photographs always exhibit bird behavior beautifully. I am in awe of your photography skills. Fantastic post!

  6. ...beautiful captures of a beautiful bird!! I always love seeing that incredible yellow in the woods!!

  7. Oh, my goodness, but this is a wonderful series of photographs!! I've never seen one, but I'll certainly recognize one when I do! I can't believe you got so many different 'poses'! Well done.

  8. What an awesome series Jim! Beautiful photography and captures of behaviors of a striking bird. Great post!

  9. Hello Jim!

    Yes birds are beautiful!
    Your blog is fantastic!

    I liked Congratulations!

    Greatings from Brazil!

  10. Wonderful, wonderful photographs!

  11. Stunning images of a beautiful little bird Jim.

  12. Great job! You certainly stuck with him and caught him doing all the things birds do. Pretty amazing stuff.