Prothonotary Warbler

Protonotaria citrea

Prothonotary Warblers spent winters in southern Central America, northern South America, and the coastline of the Yucatan Peninsula. When spring arrives, they migrate into most of the eastern USA. These birds seek swampland hardwood forest as nesting sites and are only one of two warbler species in North America to use cavities for nesting. (The other is the Lucy’s Warbler.)

I met both males and females of this species during my 2021 spring migration vigil on South Padre Island. The brilliance of their yellow coloring makes a lasting impression. The resemblance to the garments of the papal clerks in the Catholic church has earned them the name Prothonotary.

Suitable habitat for these birds in eastern North America is under attack by human development and is one cause for a decline in the population of these birds.

Today’s science views this species as monotypic (i.e. there are no subspecies recognised). Further, the Prothonotary Warbler is the only member of the genus Protonotaria.

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