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Bird Conservation – Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warblers (Protonotaria citrea)are one of the few songbirds to nest in cavities and inhabit much of the southeast and Great Lake states. They nest in swampy forests and winter along the coast of Central and South America. Their mangrove wintering sites are rapidly decreasing.

Prothonotary Warbler

In our area, Prothonotary Warblers are uncommon but found yearly along riparian areas. We have been lucky to see them often this year, perhaps due to high amounts of rainfall.

Conservation List

  • Increase acreage of bottomland and upland forest habitats
  • Slow or halt deforestation and degradation of wintering mangrove habitat (restore habitat where possible)
  • Develop baseline inventory of Prothonotary Warbler breeding and wintering populations

Prothonotary Warbler {Protonotaria citrea}

Conservation Action

Partners in Flight along with other conservation organizations such as Mississippi Valley Joint Venture, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners for Wildlife Program, The National Resources Conservation Service Wetland Reserve Program, Ducks Unlimited, and the Nature Conservancy have taken up efforts to increase acreage of proper habitat. Other organizations on the wintering grounds have been limited and stricter laws are needed (and enforced).

Prothonotary Warbler

In our area we have been tracking Prothonotary Warbler sightings to work on establishing nesting locations. We have hopes of creating a nest box program similar to what has been done for Eastern Bluebirds. However, according to the Birder’s Conservation Handbook, nest boxes have “increased local densities of breeding birds, though there is concern that birds breeding in nest boxes may have increased rates of nest predation”.

As of 2004, Prothonotary Warbler population was estimated at 1.8 million (39% decline since 1966). Full details on this species and 99 other North American birds at risk can be found in Jeffrey V. Wells’ Birder’s Conservation Handbook.


  1. June 21, 2008    

    There are nesting Prothonotaries at a state park near me (Parvin State Park in Centerton, NJ). In my few years of birding, this is the only location I’ve seen them…and in very low numbers. I’ve seen only about 3 in the park this spring so far.

  2. June 22, 2008    

    I’ve never seen one of those… yet!
    Your advice for conservation is always great 🙂

  3. June 25, 2008    

    These are such lovely birds. When I went on a swamp tour this past May we saw dozens of them.

  4. Dee Dee
    March 15, 2009    

    I had some on our porch just a few hours ago, and I would like to know what they eat. Any suggestions? They are so cute!

  5. The Birdfreak Team The Birdfreak Team
    March 16, 2009    

    Prothonotary Warblers are usually not “feeder birds” (as most warblers are not). But they eat insects, spiders, etc. so if they were finding grubs, that would attract them.

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