We’re winding up the year sharing the most popular — and we hope most compelling — Flying Lesson stories from 2020. Most of the posts are profiles of bird encounters, including this story of a Prothonotary Warbler we crossed paths with for a visit we still treasure. We’re posting one of the highlight pieces each Sunday this month.
All warblers are wonderful to watch, particularly males in the spring. Nature gives them fresh feathers, all the better to snare a mate. For some warblers, spring markings and colors intensify to the point that they look nothing like their normal selves.
My favorite is the Prothonotary Warbler.
Of the 37 species in the Eastern U.S., the male Prothonotary is the only one that glows. His head is a saturated yellow-orange, earning him the nickname “Golden Swamp Warbler.”
Finding a Prothonotary feels like finding that last, hopelessly hidden Easter egg. You have to see it to fully appreciate it, and every time, he takes my breath away.
Yesterday we got lucky. A male in its full spring splendor shot out from under the bridge where Anders and I were standing and headed straight for a bush not 10 feet away and directly in front of us. In the past four years, we’ve seen this bird four times in four states without the lengthy encounter that this little bird gave us.
The visit was a photographer’s delight – perfect late afternoon light and a bird so hungry he foraged out in the open for a good 15 minutes.