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Prothonotary Warbler Protonotaria citrea


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Prothonotary Warbler, male
credit:  Dominic Sherony/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Parulidae, Wood Warblers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has bright yellow head, neck, and underparts. Back is olive-yellow and wings are bluish gray with pale feather margins. Dark tail is marked with striking white spots. Legs and bill are dark. ADULT FEMALE Similar, but plumage is duller and less colorful overall, and spots on tail are smaller. JUVENILE Similar to adult female.

Dimensions Length: 5 1/2" (14 cm)

Habitat Fairly common, but declining summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to wet woodland, often beside rivers. Winters from Central America to northern South America where it favors coastal mangroves. Species is threatened by loss of specific wintering habitat as well as loss and degradation of breeding habitat.

Observation Tips Easiest to detect by song and call.

Range Mid-Atlantic, Florida, Plains, California, Texas, Eastern Canada, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Southeast, Great Lakes, New England

Voice Song is a distinctive series of rich, liquid notes: swiip-swiip-swiip-swiip-swiip; call is a sharp tchip.

Discussion Stunningly colorful and relatively large wood-warbler with a rather long bill. The only one of its kind in the east to nest in natural tree holes and sometimes nest boxes. Sexes are separable.