May 08 2008
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.