June 30, 2021
Species of the month: Prothonotary Warbler
Conservation status: Endangered
This vibrant little warbler has just been detected on one of our nature reserves! Bringing our total species of conservation concern protected to 65! Their presence was detected using our deployed Acoustic Recording Units (ARU's), a device to assess bird calls in the area.
How to identify the Prothonotary Warbler:
It is bright golden yellow with blue-gray wings and tail and a yellow-olive back. The warbler has prominent black eyes which stand out against its yellow face. Looking at the warbler from below, white is visible under the tail. Female Prothonotaries are usually a more muted yellow.
The prothonotary warbler is the ONLY warbler in Canada to nest in small, ready-made, tree cavities found low in the trunks of dead or dying trees. The cavities chosen are often old holes made by black-capped chickadees and downy woodpeckers. Once a suitable cavity is chosen by the male prothonotaries, they start to work on building a nest with the primary material, moss. When a female has selected her mate, she will use grasses and other plant material to complete the nest. The final result is a tiny nest cup only two inches wide!
In summer, these warblers opt for homes in mature forests in or near swamp habitat. Their preferred forest habitat is usually composed of willow, white oak, silver maple, yellow birch and blackgum. This warbler can be found across southwestern Ontario and the southern US. During the winter months, they migrate to the mangrove forests of Central America.
Prothonotary warblers forage above or near slow-moving/stagnant water. They like to eat a variety of insects and snails.
Photo credit: Bill McDonald