Thursday, April 07, 2011

First Female Prothonotary

At the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, we are seeing a influx of returning Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea). So far, nine banded birds that have returned to the boardwalk. Seven of those birds were banded during April and May of 2009, while the other two were banded during April of 2010. We expect  more returns around the boardwalk, along the canoe trail, and other sites in Four Holes Swamp where birds were banded last season. 

Most of the Prothonotary Warblers are holding to their previous modus operandi and have returned to their same territories from the 2010 breeding season.  A054 (red over yellow) seems to be the exception to the rule. He was sighted on his old breeding territory and 30 minutes later, he was along the trail to the lake. We're not sure if he was following the singing of other birds or the surveying staff, or if he is genuinely interested in some new habitat. He had a nest last year that failed and was not able to have a successful second nest.  It is possible that his mate met her demise as she was never again observed. Additionally, his territory from 2010 was not the fabulous, so he may have felt it was time for a change! Only time will tell.  

Near #6 along the boardwalk, we saw A023 (pink over light green) with an unbanded female Prothonotary Warbler. This is the first female Prothonotary Warbler we have seen return this year. This is exciting as her presence signals the official beginning to the breeding season. The two birds were eagerly checking out nest cavities around the boardwalk. The most interesting thing is A023 seem to be showing her the sites that he and his mate from 2010 used for their nests.

Stay tuned for more drama from As The Swamp Turns!

Images by Mark Musselman

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