Thursday, August 8, 2013

Prothonotary Warblers

They're my favourite bird, by a pretty wide-margin.I saw my first one, a male at Bannister Lake on May 17, 1997. Bannister Lake is in the south end of Cambridge, so this bird was basically our first 'rarity'. It was also one of the prettiest birds I had ever seen. The bird cooperated so nicely; we were standing on the top of an observation tower, and the bird was literally 10 feet away, at our eye level (on top of the tower). It really stuck with me.

So much so, that I contacted Bird Studies Canada in March/April 1999 about volunteering for the recovery team (in the meantime I had launched myself into reading as much information as I could get on the species, particularly in Ontario). Jon McCracken was the chair of the recovery team and he gave me a some more information, as well as the blue prints for building nest boxes. Dad and I built about 10 at the wood working shop at the school he taught in after hours... :) It was pretty fun. We still joke about seeing some of our nest boxes at Rondeau, where they were being erected.

We also got to go on some nest box rounds with Jon through Backus Woods, just north of Long Point, checking on some of the pairs nesting. I think we saw 10 in one day! As well as our first Acadian Flycatchers, it was pretty cool, and I was hooked.

I've always had a sweet spot for Prothons. I make a special effort to see them wherever I go. There population has really fluctuated while I've been birding, with the population being from 7-25 pairs. I believe this year there are 13 pairs in the province (though it may be closer to 10), though the western Lake Erie basic likely has ~30 pairs (that might be abit high), mostly in Ohio.

Anyways, just thought I'd do a different style of post - haven't been birding too much (though this will be changing!)
Female Prothonotary, Old Cut, May 19, 2002.

Male Prothonotary, Rondeau, May 3, 2008.
Male Prothonotary coming out of nest box (looks weird!), Holiday Beach CA, May 11, 2009.
Male Prothonotary (this was the first year a male was on territory here, in recent years), Fish Point, May 19, 2010.

Male Prothonotary (likely the same bird in 2010), Fish Point, May 2011.

Same bird as above.
Male Prothonotary, Fish Point, May 12, 2013.
Mike captured the male at Fish Point singing his heart out here...


  1. Ken you really need to get to Francis Biedler Forest SC in mid-late April. This species is almost excessively abundant there and they seem to have no fear of people on the boardwalk.

  2. Commenting on Sept. 25th. Spotted a Lawrences' Warbler in Upper Canada Park near Doon Pioneer Park CC. How likely to return?

    1. Ah, well its possible if you just saw it that it may be there tomorrow. Pretty hard to say though.

    2. Seen at Aug. end. Will return next season?

    3. Regard Lawrence's. Dusted off Sibley. Likely saw imm. Orchard Oriole with mom. Oh well, not twitching now anyway.