May 08 2008

Best Bird in Ohio

Published by at 5:10 pm under Migration,Songbirds

Prothonotary warbler (photo by Chuck Tague)

Prothonotary warbler (photo by Chuck Tague)

I saw a lot of birds in northwestern Ohio last weekend - in fact the count of species may have been a personal record - but the best bird by far was this beautiful prothonotary warbler.  He was so stunning he attracted a crowd.

This picture may make you think the prothonotary perches out in the open all the time, but don't be fooled.  Though his bright yellow body is easy to see before the leaves come out, he forages low on branches in woody swamps and spends his time walking among the tangles.  It took a lot of snapshots and patience before Chuck Tague got this picture.

Seeing a prothonotary warbler is always a treat, especially because I'm from Pittsburgh.  These warblers are southeastern birds whose northern range extends to the Great Lakes, but they don't spend any time here.  Their favorite habitat is flat land in wooded swamps, a setting notably missing from southwestern Pennsylvania.  The only place I can reliably find them is in the glaciated area near Pymatuning.  And then I'm lucky to see one even there.

All of which makes this warbler the Best Bird and my favorite memory of last week's trip to Crane Creek and Magee Marsh, Ohio.


(photo by Chuck Tague)

One response so far

One Response to “Best Bird in Ohio”

  1. JoAnneon 10 May 2008 at 8:55 am

    Spring before last, about this time of year, a prothonotary warbler showed up at my feeders on the back deck. I live somewhat near Beechwood Farms and do volunteer work there, too, so I immediately called them. Brian came out to confirm the sighting, then called the county’s official record person, who also came out. Brien spent all day on my back deck and took many photos of this fiesty little guy, since the bird was quite co-operative and come very close. This male stayed around for over 10 days, and we had hoped he was planning on nesting here. We had even installed a bluebird box down by the pond, but no luck. Perhaps he could not find a lady to share his domain, or the habitat was not just right, so he moved on. I count myself very fortunate to have had this unusual encounter, and have looked for a return each year, without luck.

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