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Friday, July 29, 2011

#12: Prothonotary Warbler - Sandy Creek Park, NC

Living in the South, there’s one bird I can look forward to seeing every summer. All I have to do is search near water, and starting sometime in early to mid April, I can hear their incessant song from along stream-sides, lake shores, and swamp bottoms. I’m talking of course, about the Prothonotary Warbler.

To me, Prothonotary Warblers are one of the most beautiful birds in the world. They’ve got this deep golden hue that causes the bird to glow if the sun’s rays catch it right. They were named, like the Cardinal or the Bishop, for an order of the Catholic Church, the official record-keepers of Papal documents in Rome. Like the Northern Cardinal is so-called due to the red robes of its namesake, so the Prothonotary Warbler is named because real-life prothonotaries wore vivid yellow robes.

Prothonotary Warbler - Sandy Creek Park, NC; 5/27/2010

Unfortunately, because Prothonotary Warblers like dense vegetation near their watery homes, it’s hard to catch one in the light. James and I found this guy belting away next to the big pond at Sandy Creek Park – luckily the sun was on him, and you can see how colorful they can become in the right light. Hopefully we’ll get a better shot soon, but for now, I’m not complaining – Prothonotary Warblers are freakin’ sweet! 


  1. Hello Birding Bros!
    I love your posts! And what an interesting tidbit on how the prothonotary (PROW) got its name! My favorite place to see them is in the Beidler Audubon Swamp in the SC Lowcountry. They have an on-going citizen science research project on the PROW called Project Protho and my favorite annual fundraiser is Wine and Warblers. Try googling it to learn more. These birds like to hang out along the boardwalk so the photo opportunities are great!

    Cathy Miller
    Charleston, SC

  2. @Cathy - Thanks for the comment! SC must be the place for Prothonotaries - I saw a whole bunch at the Congaree Swamp, and they were just crawling all over the boardwalk there too. Too bad I didn't bring a camera with me!

  3. I'm a new resident to North Carolina, living in Burnsville. (about an hour from Asheville.) I'm a bird enthusiast and supply a number of nest boxes for a number of birds every year. I would like to know if the prothonotary warblers nest in my area or just pass through. I have a great nestbox built for them on a post on the edge of a forest stream. If anyone knows of prothonotary warblers nesting in North Carolina, please email me and let me know. Thanks so much.