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Prothonotary Warbler Range Map


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Prothonotary Warblers

The Prothonotary Warbler (Prothonotaria citrea) is one of only two warbler species in North America that nests in cavities.  The other is Lucy's Warbler of the Southwest, and it is not known to live in artificial habitats.  The Prothonotary Warbler is a user of birdhouses, and a pair will even use one to raise more than one brood in a year.  Different pairs will also use the same house to raise their broods in a given season.

This bright yellow beauty with blue-gray wings and tail is about 5-1/2 inches long.  Its song is a ringing sweet-weet-weet-weet-weet.  It lives in wooded swamplands, flooded bottomland forests, and along streams with dead trees near them.  Sometimes they live in trees actually in the water. The borders of creeks and rivers seem to be their favorite nesting places, but nesting over still water is not uncommon.  Their nests are close to the ground.

The Prothonotary Warbler's range covers most of the southeastern states, north to Minnesota, Michigan and New York.  It appears occasionally in New England in the spring and during migration periods may appear anyplace coast to coast.

Cowbirds, which lay their eggs in other species' nests for the other birds to incubate and raise the young, frequently parasitize the nests of Prothonotary Warblers.  The small entrance hole size of this house will discourage this practice by cowbirds, which are larger birds.

The name Prothonotary comes from Protonotary,  an official of the Catholic church who keeps records of certain acts of the Pope and who wears a bright yellow hood.

During the peak of the breeding season, many warblers, including this one, may be seen bursting into the air, and fluttering about singing a canary-like song.

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