Prothonotary Warbler 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Protonotaria Citrea 

Prothonotary Warbler

Males have golden-yellow head and underparts, sometimes almost orange, becoming fader to white undertail coverts. Wings are rather blue-gray, without wing bars. The blue-gray tail have large white patches.

Females are duller than males, with the head less golden.

Juveniles resemble adults but are duller, and more greenish on back and head. 

BILL: long and pointed.

SIZE: large warbler, measuring about 5.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of 8.75 inches.

WEIGHT: weighs about 14 grams.

COLOR: yellow, orange, white and blue-gray.

Insects, especially aquatic insects, spiders, seeds, and snails.

Wooded swamps, flooded bottomland forests, and wooded areas near streams and lakes.

BREEDS: Southern Minnesota and Southern Ontario, southward to Central Texas and Florida.

WINTER: Central America and northern South America.

CALL: A dry “chip” note and buzzy flight call. With a strong voice, it utters 7 to 12 small sharp calls, or a more liquid song while hovering on the spot, with fanned wings.

SONG: A series of loud, ringing “zweet” notes.

NEST: The male often builds several incomplete, unused nests in his territory; the female builds the real nest. It is a cup-shaped nest with moss, lichens, dry leaves, small twigs and bark strips. It is lined with fine grasses and rootlets.

EGGS: 4 - 6 glossy white eggs, with a slightly yellow or cream tinge, heavily marked with reddish-brown and purplish-gray spots.

INCUBATION: 12 - 14 days, female.

NESTLING PHASE: 9 - 10 days.

They often forage above standing or slow-moving water. They slowly hop along branches, twigs, and along fallen trees, keeping fairly low or actually dropping to the ground in search of food. They fly between trees and shrubs with heavy wingbeats in an undulating pattern.

The oldest recorded Prothonotary Warbler was a male, and at least 8 years, 1 month old.

The Prothonotary Warbler got its name from the bright yellow robes worn by papal clerks, known as prothonotaries, in the Roman Catholic church.

Prothonotary Warbler Infographic


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