"The Flashy Singer/Babysitter"

Prothonotary Warbler

       The name, Prothonotary Warbler, is pronounced proh-THON-uh-ter-ee. If that’s too hard to say, do what I do and call it PROW, as so many other birders do. This is a bird of the eastern United States, and yet, on occasion, birders are able to see it in the west. It has been seen in the Red Cliffs Recreation Camp Ground, near Jacob Hamblin’s home in Santa Clara, and in the fields at Grafton.

        The Prothonotary Warbler’s song is a series of clear, ringing notes on the same pitch: sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet. The male is a brilliant yellow-orange bird and a striking sight to see. How could any female warbler ignore the 'sweet, sweet' song of this flashy male?

        The PROW is the only eastern warble that nests in a cavity, and usually near water. But that is okay because if the young birds fall out into the water, they can propel themselves across the water 10 to 15 meters . . . hoping all the way they don’t get eaten by a big fish. They are secondary cavity nesters, and that means they do not make their own cavities but use a woodpecker hole, a snag, stump, or rotten wood in a tree. If you give them a nest box, they may use it if it’s in the right habitat. They aren’t too fussy about their homes. They have been known to nest in a mailbox, a glass jar, coat pockets, old hornets nests, a tea cup, gourds, or most anything that has a cavity big enough for a nest. PROW usually have two hatches a year. And
when the female re-nests, and needs a babysitter, the male takes care of the young from the first brood.

        Breeding takes place across the eastern United States ranging from Florida to eastern Texas and north to Wisconsin and New Jersey. PROW warblers spend the winter months down south, in mangrove swamps of southern Central America and northern South America. If you find this unforgettable bird in southern Utah, you can blame it on high winds, storms, bad weather, or the beautiful scenery that everyone wants to come here to see.

        Brenda Rusnell is the artist of the Prothonotary Warbler. For more information about this bird, or upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon Presentations and Field Trips call 435 673-0996.