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Overview

Brief Summary

Protonotaria citrea

A medium-sized (5 ½ inches) wood warbler, the male Prothonotary Warbler is most easily identified by its olive back, gray wings and tail, and bright yellow breast and head. The female Prothonotary Warbler is similar to the male, but is somewhat duller, particularly on the head and breast. The male is unmistakable; the female resembles other female wood warblers, but its combination of yellow breast and gray wings and tail separates it from most, if not all, of its relatives. The Prothonotary Warbler breeds in the eastern United States and southern Canada from Michigan and Ontario south to central Florida and west to Texas. Despite this large range, this species only breeds locally within its range where habitat is appropriate. In winter, Prothonotary Warblers migrate south to southern Mexico, Central America, the West Indies, and northern South America. Prothonotary Warblers breed in wooded freshwater swamps, nesting in abandoned woodpecker nest holes. In winter, this species may be found in tropical wetland habitats, particularly in mangroves. Prothonotary Warblers primarily eat small insects and spiders, but may also eat seeds and other plant material during the winter. In appropriate swampy habitats, Prothonotary Warblers may be seen flitting through the undergrowth or low forest canopy, gleaning insects and spiders from leaves and twigs. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of metallic “zweet” syllables repeated in rapid succession. Prothonotary Warblers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least concern

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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: (>2,500,000 square km (greater than 1,000,000 square miles)) BREEDING: eastern Minnesota and Wisconsin across southern Great Lakes region to northern New Jersey, south to Texas, Gulf Coast, and central Florida, west to Oklahoma and Kansas (AOU 1983). BBS data (1966-1991) indicate relatively high abundance in Louisiana, North Carolina, and Mississippi. Breeding range has expanded northward, especially in the Mississippi Valley and vicinity, and nesting recently (1992) was recorded in Rhode Island (Wadman et al., unpubl.). NON-BREEDING: Yucatan peninsula (rarely) south on Caribbean slope of Central America to Nicaragua; both slopes of Costa Rica and Panama; from Colombia east to northern Venezuela; and from the Netherlands Antilles east to Trinidad and Tobago (AOU 1983). Most common in Panama and western Colombia and northern Venezuela; barely reaches Suriname and northern Ecuador. Migrates through and apparently occasionally overwinters in West Indies. Uncommon in Puerto Rico, apparently rare in Virgin Islands (Raffaele 1983, 1989). Recorded also on the Galapagos Islands nearly 1000 km west of mainland South America (Petit and Tarvin 1990).

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Geographic Range

During the breeding season the prothonotary warbler inhabits most of the United States, particularly central and southeastern states. Breeding occurs as far west as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. To the east they can be found all along the Atlantic coast, stretching from northern Florida to southern New York. They also inhabit northern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Protonotaria_citrea then travels south for the wintering season in Central America and parts of northern South America. They remain along the Atlantic coast from southern Mexico to South America. The prothonotary warbler will also winter along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama (Petit 1999).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Range

E US; winters se Mexico to w Ecuador and Lesser Antilles.

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Geographic Range

During the breeding season the prothonotary warbler inhabits most of the United States, particularly central and southeastern states. Breeding occurs as far west as Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. To the east they can be found all along the Atlantic coast, stretching from northern Florida to southern New York. They also inhabit northern states such as Michigan and Wisconsin. Protonotaria citrea then travels south for the wintering season in Central America and parts of northern South America. They remain along the Atlantic coast from southern Mexico to South America. The prothonotary warbler will also winter along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica and Panama (Petit 1999).

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native ); neotropical (Native )

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Physical Description

Morphology

Physical Description

Protonotaria_citrea received its name because of its resemblance to the yellow hooded prothonotaries of the Roman Catholic Church. Coloration of Protonotaria citrea is a vibrant yellow on the head, neck, and underside. Yellow fades into olive green along its back and then to gray over the lower back and tail. The upperwings are a blueish gray with black at the tips and the underwings white and yellow. The belly fades from yellow to white, coloring the underside of the tail white. Female birds resemble males except they are duller in color, with more olive green tinting the yellow. Males have a black bill, while females have a black upper mandible and a flesh colored or brown lower mandable. Both males and females have dark grey legs and feet, and black eyes (Petit 1999; Terres 1980).

Range mass: 14.4 to 17.8 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.1994 W.

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Physical Description

Protonotaria citrea received its name because of its resemblance to the yellow hooded prothonotaries of the Roman Catholic Church. Coloration of P. citrea is a vibrant yellow on the head, neck, and underside. Yellow fades into olive green along its back and then to gray over the lower back and tail. The upperwings are a blueish gray with black at the tips and the underwings white and yellow. The belly fades from yellow to white, coloring the underside of the tail white. Female birds resemble males except they are duller in color, with more olive green tinting the yellow. Males have a black bill, while females have a black upper mandible and a flesh colored or brown lower mandable. Both males and females have dark grey legs and feet, and black eyes (Petit 1999; Terres 1980).

Range mass: 14.4 to 17.8 g.

Average basal metabolic rate: 0.1994 W.

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Size

Length: 14 cm

Weight: 17 grams

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Diagnostic Description

Distinguished from yellow warbler (DENDROICA PETECHIA) by blue-gray wings and uppertail feathers; distinguished from blue-winged warbler (VERMIVORA PINUS) by lack of a black eye line.

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
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Comments: BREEDING: Mature deciduous floodplain, river, and swamp forests; wet lowland forest. Primary habitats are almost always near standing water; swamps that are somewhat open with scattered dead stumps are preferred. Bottomland forests and extensive willow thickets near lakes or ponds are also quite suitable. Requires dense underbrush along streambanks (Bushman and Therres 1988). Nests in cavity (natural, old woodpecker hole, bird box, etc.), in snag or living tree, often or always near or over water, at average height of 1.5-3 m (range 0.9-9.8 m); male selects territory, nest site, places some material before female's spring arrival. May be limited by the number of available nesting cavities. See Blem and Blem (1994) for information on composition and microclimate of nests in Virginia. This is the only eastern warbler that nests in tree cavities or other crannies (the only other cavity-nesting wood warbler (Parulidae) is Lucy's warbler [VERMIVORA LUCIAE]). Petit and Petit (1988) provided the first record of a prothonotary warbler using an open-cup nest built by another species (red-winged blackbird [AGELAIUS PHOENICEUS]).

Hamel et al. (1982) provided details on habitat use and suitability in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The following five vegetation types used by this species in five physiographic provinces (Piedmont, Sandhills, Inner Coastal Plain, Outer Coastal Plain, and Coastline) are listed in order of decreasing suitability: oak-gum-cypress is suitable at the sapling-poletimber successional stage, but optimal at the late successional sawtimber stage; both bay swamp-pocosin and elm-ash-cottonwood are only marginal at the sapling-poletimber stage and suitable at the sawtimber stage; southern mixed mesic hardwoods are only marginal in both the sapling-poletimber and sawtimber stages; and pond-pine pocosin is marginal at the late successional sawtimber stage only. In all cases, shrubs, midstory canopy and dead trees or limbs are used for all activities (foraging, nesting, perching, roosting, and singing), and snags must have a dbh of at least 15 cm.

Kahl et al. (1985) described habitat around song perches in Missouri as typically level terrain, with a small number of woody stems (< 2.5 cm dbh; < 2800 per ha, never > 4200), short ground vegetation (< 0.20 m, never > 0.36), and a high canopy (16-40 m, never < 12). Other important features included few dead stems (2.5-9.9 cm dbh; < 200 per ha, never > 250) and an intermediate subcanopy closure (30-80%, never < 10 or > 90).

NON-BREEDING: In migration, habitat includes dry woodland, scrub, thickets, and mangroves (AOU 1983). Commonly mist-netted in citrus groves in Belize (Mills 1989). Individuals were mist-netted in second-growth marshes, mangrove scrub, and seasonally flooded low forest in the northeastern coastal region of the Yucatan Peninsula (Ornat and Greenberg 1990). Usually occurs near water and most typically in mangroves in Puerto Rico (Raffaele 1989), though Faaborg and Arendt (1992) reported mist-net captures in dry forest in southwestern Puerto Rico. Records from Colombia include mangroves, freshwater swamps, coastal shrubs, and along the Rio Frio River in the edge of the foothills. The birds usually occur near water, but were also historically noted "in yellow, acacia-like trees on the border of stump land and dry forest, far from water" (Bent 1953).

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Water is important to Protonotaria citrea and they spend their lives near or next to water formations of all kinds, such as lakes, creeks, swamps, and flooded forests. Occasionally they have been found living by swimming pools or house ponds. Protonotaria_citrea are unique among warblers because they build breeding homes in pre-established cavities, made either naturally, by woodpeckers, or by man. Manmade cavities can be made out of milk cartons or small wooden boxes. Most cavities that are chosen are those in trees. While wintering most Protonotaria citrea live in the mangroves that line the coast of Central and South America. Many of these mangroves are being destroyed for the construction of coastal developement, highways, and agriculture. This destruction of Protonotaria_citrea habitat has produced a decline in their population. The destruction of the forests in the United States is also a threat to this bird's habitat and life (Petit 1999).

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest

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Water is important to P. citrea and they spend their lives near or next to water formations of all kinds, such as lakes, creeks, swamps, and flooded forests. Occasionally they have been found living by swimming pools or house ponds. Protonotaria citrea are unique among warblers because they build breeding homes in pre-established cavities, made either naturally, by woodpeckers, or by man. Manmade cavities can be made out of milk cartons or small wooden boxes. Most cavities that are chosen are those in trees. While wintering most P. citrea live in the mangroves that line the coast of Central and South America. Many of these mangroves are being destroyed for the construction of coastal developement, highways, and agriculture. This destruction of Protonotaria citrea habitat has produced a decline in their population. The destruction of the forests in the United States is also a threat to this bird's habitat and life (Petit 1999).

Terrestrial Biomes: savanna or grassland ; forest ; rainforest

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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Arrives in Tennessee early to mid-April. Arrives in Puerto Rico by October (sometimes as early as August), departs by end of March; appears to form small flocks before migrating north in spring (Raffaele 1983). Arrives in Costa Rica late August-October, departs by early to mid-March. Present in South America mainly September-March (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). (Stiles and Skutch 1989). Migrants uncommon on Gulf lowlands of Mexico.

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats insects and spiders; forages on floating driftwood, half-submerged logs, tree trunks (Terres 1980); probes bark crevices, rolled leaves, and tangles, occasionally takes fruits or nectar (Stiles and Skutch 1989). See Petit and Petit (1988) and Petit et al. (1990) for detailed informarion on foraging ecology in Tennessee. In mangroves in Venezuela, ate various insects, mostly beetles, captured on foliage and twig substrates at low to moderate heights (Lefebvre et al. 1992). In Panama, diet includes fruits of the gumbo-limbo tree (BURSERA SIMURABA), a widespread tropical species common in advanced second-growth (Trainer and Will 1984).

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Food Habits

Protonotaria_citrea is primarily insectivorous, feeding on flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, spiders, caterpillers, insect larvae, and an occasional snail or isopod. They have also been found to eat fruit and seeds. They forage for food in trees, branches, fallen logs, and leaves that are either on plants or dead and covering the ground. Using the bill to pick and probe, they hop along trees, logs and the ground in search for food. Protonotaria_citrea will also catch food in an aerial or hovering manner, more often when caring for a nestling than not (Petit 1999).

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Food Habits

Protonotaria citrea is primarily insectivorous, feeding on flies, beetles, moths, butterflies, spiders, caterpillers, insect larvae, and an occasional snail or isopod. They have also been found to eat fruit and seeds. They forage for food in trees, branches, fallen logs, and leaves that are either on plants or dead and covering the ground. Using the bill to pick and probe, they hop along trees, logs and the ground in search for food. Protonotaria citrea will also catch food in an aerial or hovering manner, more often when caring for a nestling than not (Petit 1999).

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Population Biology

Number of Occurrences

Note: For many non-migratory species, occurrences are roughly equivalent to populations.

Estimated Number of Occurrences: 81 to >300

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Global Abundance

2500 to >1,000,000 individuals

Comments: Fairly common; no data.

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General Ecology

POPULATION DENSITY: Published information on bird densities from breeding bird censuses in the southeastern U.S. between 1947 and 1979 were summarized by Hamel et al. (1982): mean (se) density was listed as 14.9 (3.9) pairs per 40 ha, with a density range of 6-28 pairs per 40 ha. Accurate measures of population densities from censusing techniques are rare for this species because few studies of this nature occur in swamp forests. Encouragingly, however, there are two studies of cypress-tupelo wetlands that provide similar results: Mitchell and Lancia (1990) found prothonotary warblers to be the most abundant bird species of their studies in South Carolina; the mean number of detections per 25 m radius 10-min point count ranged from 0.11 in a clearcut to 2.68 in the forest interior. Similar results were obtained by R. Sallabanks (unpubl. data) in a study of bottomland hardwood forests along the Roanoke River in North Carolina; the mean number of detections per unlimited radius 10-min point count ranged from 0.73 in levee forest to 2.21 in large patches of cypress-tupelo swamp forest. Again, the prothonotary warbler was the most common species censused. Whitcomb et al. (1981) found 40 males per sq km in their Maryland study area and Fowler and Fowler (1985) report 0.90 birds per 0.8 km segments of the Duck River in middle Tennessee.

TERRITORY SIZE: Territory size seems variable. Mean territory size was 1.48 ha in Michigan (Walkinshaw 1953), 0.50 ha in southern Illinois (Kleen 1973), and 0.48 ha in Tennessee (Petit 1989). Lefebvre et al. (1994) considered this species to be nonterritorial in winter in northeastern Venezuela mangroves. May roost communally during nonbreeding season (Warkentin and Morton 1995).

SITE FIDELITY: In Venezuela, exhibited some fidelity to wintering sites (Lefebvre et al. 1994).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
97 months.

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Lifespan/Longevity

Average lifespan

Status: wild:
97 months.

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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 8.1 years (wild)
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Reproduction

In the mid-Atlantic region, nesting occurs from late April to late June, with a peak from mid-May to mid-June (see Bushman and Therres 1988). Petit (1989) found the mean initiation dates for late nests to be 7 June in 1985, and 13 June in 1987. Clutch size is 3-8 (usually 4-6) (Walkinshaw 1941, 1953; Petit 1989; Blem and Blem 1992). Incubation, by female, typically lasts 12-14 days. Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at 10-11 days. Typically, individual females produce two broods per year, sometimes one, especially in the north. Petit (1989) found most females to lay two clutches, but Blem and Blem (1992) never found the same female incubating two sets of eggs in any single year.

Reproductive success in natural cavities (e.g., Walkinshaw 1941) appears to be significantly lower than in nest-boxes (e.g., Petit 1989). Walkinshaw (1941) reported a hatching success of 38% in Michigan and 61% in Tennessee; Petit (1989) reported a hatching success of 84% and a low nestling mortality of 11%, compared to Walkinshaw's (1941) 33% in Michigan. The difference in nest success appears to be most attributable to regional differences in competition from house wrens (TROGLODYTES AEDON). Life history accounts were provided by Brewster (1878), Loucks (1894), Meyer and Nevius (1943), Bent (1953), Walkinshaw (1953), and Petit (1989).

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Pairing between male and female prothonotary warblers occurs during the breeding season shortly after spring migration from the south. The male usually arrives at the breeding destination before the female in order find one or more breeding cavities and establish territory around these cavities. He layers each cavity with moss and introduces the female to each cavity with a display. The female chooses her mate based on the quality or the number of cavities that he has produced. Once the female has decided, she finishes building the nest and begins laying her eggs. An average clutch is 4-5 eggs, which the female incubates for 12-14 days. The eggs hatch usually within 12 hours of each other and the newborn nestlings remain in the nest for the next 10-11 days. Both the female and the male bring the nestlings food during this time. The final day, the parents repeatedly show up at the cavity, irritable and without food, chirping for the nestlings to exit the cavity. Fledglings are watched and cared for during the next 35 days until they can feed and care for themselves (Petit 1999; Terres 1980).

Average time to hatching: 13 days.

Average eggs per season: 5.

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Pairing between male and female prothonotary warblers occurs during the breeding season shortly after spring migration from the south. The male usually arrives at the breeding destination before the female in order find one or more breeding cavities and establish territory around these cavities. He layers each cavity with moss and introduces the female to each cavity with a display. The female chooses her mate based on the quality or the number of cavities that he has produced. Once the female has decided, she finishes building the nest and begins laying her eggs. An average clutch is 4-5 eggs, which the female incubates for 12-14 days. The eggs hatch usually within 12 hours of each other and the newborn nestlings remain in the nest for the next 10-11 days. Both the female and the male bring the nestlings food during this time. The final day, the parents repeatedly show up at the cavity, irritable and without food, chirping for the nestlings to exit the cavity. Fledglings are watched and cared for during the next 35 days until they can feed and care for themselves (Petit 1999; Terres 1980).

Average time to hatching: 13 days.

Average eggs per season: 5.

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Protonotaria citrea

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 5 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCTATATCTAATTTTCGGCGCATGAGCCGGAATAGTGGGTACCGCCCTAAGCCTCCTCATCCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCCGGAGCTCTTCTAGGAGACGACCAAGTCTACAACGTAGTCGTCACAGCCCATGCTTTCGTAATAATCTTCTTTATAGTTATGCCAATTATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTTCCCCTAATAATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGGATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTCCCGCCATCATTCCTTCTCCTCCTAGCATCCTCCACAGTTGAAGCAGGCGTCGGCACAGGCTGAACAGTGTACCCCCCACTAGCTGGCAACCTAGCCCACGCCGGAGCCTCAGTTGACCTAGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACCTAGCTGGTATTTCCTCAATCCTAGGAGCAATCAACTTCATTACAACAGCAATCAACATAAAACCCCCTGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTCTGATCCGTCCTAATCACTGCAGTCCTTCTACTCCTCTCCCTTCCAGTCCTAGCCGCAGGAATCACAATACTCCTCACAGACCGCAACCTCAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCTGCAGGAGGGGGAGATCCTGTCCTATACCAGCATCTTNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Protonotaria citrea

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 7
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N1B - Critically Imperiled

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Reasons: Large breeding range in much of eastern U.S. and adjacent southern Ontario; numerous occurrences; fairly stable population but with some indications of a small decline.

Other Considerations: ALABAMA: No active monitoring or compilation of known occurrences has taken place in Alabama, and little is known about the status of the species. Major threat in this state is habitat loss and fragmentation due to conversion of natural forest to pine plantations; residential development, strip mining, and road construction are also contributing to habitat loss (Bailey, pers. comm.). In Alabama, the Prothonotary Warbler is a common to abundant, breeding, summer resident in the Coastal Plain and Tennessee Valley, but in the Mountain Region and Piedmont it usually breeds only locally along rivers. Breeding records date from March 8 to October 12 (Imhof 1976). ARKANSAS: No tracking of this species in Arkansas. There is no element occurrence information and no state ranking forms have been completed (Osborne, pers. comm.). The Prothonotary Warbler is a common migrant and summer resident in forested swamps and extensive forested stream bottoms, sloughs, and overflow areas in all regions. The largest numbers in summer are found on the Mississippi Alluvial Plain. Summer population studies on the Coastal Plain indicated a population of 14 singing males per 100 acres of forested stream bottomlands (James and Neal 1986). DELAWARE: The Prothonotary Warbler breeds primarily in the southern portion of the state and is threatened most heavily by loss of nesting cavities; population size and status are unknown. Breeds from mid-May to mid-July and competes readily with House Wrens for nest-boxes. No management and/or monitoring programs are currently in effect in Delaware (Heckscher, pers. comm.). ILLINOIS: Population status is unknown in this state and there are no specific management or monitoring programs in progress. Prothonotary Warblers have been generally uncommon in northeastern Illinois. Willow and buttonbush (CEPHALANTHUS OCCIDENTALIS) are the most commonly mentioned plants associated with nesting habitats. In general, the Prothonotary Warbler population declines greatly from south to north and is especially reduced north of the Illinois River (Graber et al. 1983). INDIANA: Most occurrences are in southwestern Indiana with only a few recorded in the northern part of the state. The Prothonotary Warbler is a local summer resident and common in some places. Historically, this species was mainly found in the Wabash River valley and along the Kankakee River, but was thought to be absent in summer from the Ohio River valley upstream from the mouth of the Wabash. Today, it is a common to locally abundant summer resident in good habitat (Castrale, pers. comm.). IOWA: Here, Prothonotary Warblers are common in the east, but uncommon in the west (Howell, pers. comm.). KANSAS: A good proportion of the breeding population probably occurs on managed areas (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (2), Army Corps Reservoirs (>6)). Population size is estimated in the hundreds of breeding individuals and breeding range is restricted to the southeastern one-sixth of Kansas. While the range is stable, the population trend is unknown. Birds are often found in the upper ends of large reservoirs in flooded areas. There are no management programs, but Breeding Bird Survey and the Kansas Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) are monitoring this species. The Prothonotary Warbler is an uncommon migrant in the eastern third of the state. There are breeding records west to Sumner County Arriving in Kansas about the third week of April, this species is known to occur in Cowley County along the Arkansas River (Busby, pers. comm.). KENTUCKY: Most abundant in southwestern Kentucky with few breeding occurrences confirmed in the east (Palmer-Ball, pers. comm.). MARYLAND: Minimum protection is given to Prothonotary Warbler habitat near the Chesapeake Bay shoreline and all tidal rivers in Maryland by law. About 300 Maryland Breeding Bird Atlas records exist (a record covers one-sixth of a quadrangle). Management programs do not exist, but monitoring is being conducted by the Breeding Bird Survey and state Breeding Bird Atlas (contact Glenn Therres, Nongame and Urban Wildlife Program, Wildlife Division, Tames Office Building, Annapolis, MD 21401) (Davidson, pers. comm.). MASSACHUSETTS: According to B. G. Blodget (pers. comm.), the Prothonotary Warbler has never bred in Massachusetts, yet this bird is given a state rank of S3. There are no management programs per se, although two monitoring projects organized by Blodget are focussing on all songbirds and include Prothonotary Warblers. MICHIGAN: No special status in the state (Rabe, pers. comm.). The southern portion of the state represents the northwestern range of the Prothonotary Warbler. Of the 21 confirmed breeding blocks for Michigan in the Breeding Bird Atlas, 18 were located in the southwestern counties from Muskegon and Kent south to Berrien and Branch (Brewer et al. 1991). MISSISSIPPI: Threatened primarily by habitat conversion through short-term rotation to pine monocultures (Mann, pers. comm.). MISSOURI: Not tracked in Missouri and listed as common by the "Annotated Checklist of Missouri birds" (Jacobs, pers. comm.). NEBRASKA: Historically, the Prothonotary Warbler is a regular nester but there are only two recent records. This species is listed as an uncommon migrant and localized summer resident that has declined in recent years. Peripheral extremely narrow range occurring in moist bottomlands and forests and flooded swamps in southeastern Nebraska as far north as Sarpy County; for these reasons, the Prothonotary Warbler is given a state rank of S2 (Clausen, pers. comm.). NEW JERSEY: Species status is considered to be increasing in the state. As a breeder, the Prothonotary Warbler occurs primarily in wooded swamps along Delaware Bay shore; it has been frequently reported in central New Jersey (Princeton). Considered to be a rare migrant in May and August, and a rare, local breeder (Dutko, pers. comm.). NEW YORK: A rare, locally breeding bird in New York state. First record of attempted breeding was in 1910 when a male was seen building a nest near Ithaca; first successful nest found in 1931 at Oak Orchard Swamp. The Prothonotary Warbler is really a southern species which has been gradually moving northward; New York state is on the edge of its breeding range. According to the state Breeding Bird Atlas, there are only seven 5-km blocks in which breeding is confirmed (Schneider, pers. comm.). NORTH CAROLINA: Prothonotary Warblers are found throughout the Coastal Plain, and the lower and middle Piedmont; they are generally rare in the upper third of the Piedmont although there are a few scattered records in 1-2 mountain sites. Major threats in North Carolina are reservoirs and timbering, whereas an increase in beaver activity is helping the species. While there are no management programs in progress, researchers at North Carolina State University are monitoring this species along with other neotropical migrants (Sallabanks, pers. obs.; LeGrand Jr., pers. comm.). OHIO: Recently dropped from the Ohio heritage inventory, the Prothonotary Warbler is apparently stable with over 100 listed element occurrences; there are an estimated 500-750 individuals in the state. Declines in some areas have been offset by gains in other areas and a southward expansion. There are currently no management or monitoring programs. Prothonotary Warblers are locally distributed summer residents and are scattered across the state, although pairs were scarcest in the intensively farmed northwestern and west-central counties and along the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau (Rice, pers. comm.). PENNSYLVANIA: Listed as a "Candidate Species - At Risk", the Prothonotary Warbler has a state rank of S2. There are eight historic element occurrences, two of which are extant today. Rare in the state and near the northern edge of its range, this species is increasing in number. Breeding Bird Atlas volunteers found the bird in <1% of all blocks; Prothonotary Warblers summer in all the major drainage basins of Pennsylvania except the small area of the Genesee Drainage Basin that extends south into Potter County from the state of New York (Barton, pers. comm.). RHODE ISLAND: First recorded nesting in Rhode Island in 1992 and serves as the best documented nesting in New England. Listed as "State Special Interest" with a rank of S1. There are only 1-2 pairs estimated to be in the state, and only one documented element occurrence (Enser, pers. comm.). A paper documenting the first nesting record has been submitted for publication (Wadman et al., sub. mans.). VIRGINIA: Common in Virginia, this species is not tracked. Threatened primarily by forest fragmentation and preferring bottomland hardwoods, the Prothonotary Warbler will also use marsh edge forests in Virginia. There are no management programs currently in progress although it is possible that some monitoring is occurring in the Dismal Swamp Natural Wildlife Refuge. According to the Virginia Breeding Bird Atlas, this species is common on the Coastal Plain, uncommon on the Piedmont, and local in the mountains; most confirmed breeding blocks occur in the southeastern part of the state (Mabey, pers. comm.). WEST VIRGINIA: Having a state rank of S3, the Prothonotary Warbler is tracked, but lacks an element occurrence record. Uncommon to fairly common local summer resident; rare spring migrant outside of the breeding range. Definite nesting records occur for Jefferson, Wood, Mason, Kanawha, and Cabell County (Hall 1983).

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Protonotaria citraea is listed as moderately vulnerable and is on the watch list of Partners in Flight. The placement of manmade breeding cavities in the U.S. would help populations expand. Conservation of mangroves along the coast in wintering regions would also rebuild the population, but no effort has yet been put into this cause (Petit 1999). This is a species of special concern in the state of Michigan.

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: special concern

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Protonotaria citraea is listed as moderately vulnerable and is on the watch list of Partners in Flight. The placement of manmade breeding cavities in the U.S. would help populations expand. Conservation of mangroves along the coast in wintering regions would also rebuild the population, but no effort has yet been put into this cause (Petit 1999). This is a species of special concern in the state of Michigan.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: special concern

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Population

Population Trend
Decreasing
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Global Short Term Trend: Relatively stable (=10% change)

Comments: North American Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data indicate a relatively stable population, 1966-1989 (nonsignificant decline of 0.1% per year) (Droege and Sauer 1990); nonsignificant decline of 18% from 1966 to 1993, nonsignificant decline of 12% from 1984 to 1993 (Price et al. 1995). Using rangewide BBS data, Sauer and Droege (1992) found a population increase of 0.95% per year over the long-term (1966-1988) and 0.01% per year over the short-term (1978-1988); neither of these changes are statistically significant. When BBS data from only the eastern region were analyzed, the population was found to significantly increase by 1.75% per year over the long-term and by 1.06% per year (not significant) over the short-term. Data on population trends are somewhat variable depending on the period and region of data analyzed. The center of abundance is the South Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic area, where BBS routes achieve the highest rates of detection. In this region, there are signs of decline and these signs of decline are widespread regardless of detection rates. BBS data in general show significant increases over both the last 10-year and 20-year periods (Hunter, unpubl. data). During the decade 1982-1991, BBS data show significant population increases in three states (Indiana, Mississippi, and North Carolina), significant population decreases in five states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, and Virginia), and nonsignificant trends in the remaining 12 states where data were collected (Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas). Other statistically significant changes are a general decline in the east, declines in two physiographic regions (Upper Coastal Plain and Mississippi Alluvial Plain), and increases in two physiographic regions (Lower Coastal Plain and Lexington Plain). James et al. (1992) analyzed BBS data for the 22-year period 1966-1987 for the southeastern and south-central U.S. and distinguished between upland and lowland forests. While populations showed no trend in upland forests, they significantly increased in lowland forests. A significant increase occurred in the Lower Coastal Plain, but a decrease occurred in the Ozark Ouachita Plateau; a major peak in numbers in the late 1970s in both the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the Upper Coastal Plain dominates the overall trend for the region. Numbers increased in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain and the Lower Coastal Plain in the first half of the period and declined in the second half, a pattern not seen elsewhere in the region for this species. Overall, although higher at the end of the period (1987) than at the beginning (1966), numbers have been declining since the late 1970s. According to Robbins et al. (1986), a strong increase in the southeast produced a significant rise in the continental population between 1965 and 1979 despite a high degree of irregularity during the last years of this period. Because habitat for this species is restricted to wooded wetland areas, the total numbers recorded in any state were small and no significant state trends were detected. This species is one of few to reach its greatest density in the Mississippi Alluvial Plain; the largest numbers were recorded in Louisiana. Very small population (probably not much more than about 50 pairs) and limited distribution in Canada (southern Ontario), but numbers stable (McCracken 1984). Although the evidence is weak, winter populations may be declining in Puerto Rico. Faaborg and Arendt (1992) caught only three individuals between 1981 and 1990 in annual mist-netting studies in the Guanica Forest. In the three study-years previous to this period (1976, 1978, and 1980), four birds were caught.

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Threats

Degree of Threat: C : Not very threatened throughout its range, communities often provide natural resources that when exploited alter the composition and structure over the short-term, or communities are self-protecting because they are unsuitable for other uses

Comments: The primary threat in most areas is loss of suitable habitat (Leberman 1992; Busby and Mabey, pers. comms.). Loss of old growth forest associated with riparian habitats is detrimental because older trees are more likely to develop nesting cavities. Widespread drainage of required wetland habitat is a significant threat. Significant mortality factors appear to be competition with, and nest destruction, by house wrens (TROGLODYTES AEDON) (Walkinshaw 1941, 1953, Petit 1989, Brush 1991) in northern parts of the range, brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds (MOLOTHRUS ATER) (Walkinshaw 1941, Bent 1953, Petit 1989, 1991), predatory mammals, flooding and predatory birds (Walkinshaw 1941), and snakes (Bent 1953, Petit 1989). Nesting success was seriously impacted by competing house wrens in eastern Iowa (Brush 1991). Where nest-boxes were available, house wrens used 90-94% of them, making them unavailable to warblers. In areas that lacked nest-boxes but had higher water levels, wrens took over fewer warbler nests, and predation on warbler nests was rare. Guillory (1987) provided evidence of competition for cavities and predation on prothonotary warblers by PEROMYSCUS spp. (white-footed and cotton mice) in Louisiana; mice destroyed nests, killed adults and nestlings, and cached food in cavities and nest boxes. Predator-free habitat with high, stable water levels and low wren populations, appears to be more beneficial than are nest-boxes placed in low-quality habitat. By placing the nest over water, may be better protected from mammalian predators (Petit 1989). As a cavity nester, is probably less vulnerable than open-nesting species to increased predation or brood parasitism caused by forest fragmentation. However, cowbird parasitism has been documented to reduce nest success by approximately 25%, primarily through egg removal by female cowbirds and lowered hatching success of warbler eggs (Petit 1991). Petit (1991) found 21% of 172 nests (in nest-boxes) parasitized by cowbirds (natural cavities were parasitized at the same rate)--a relatively high frequency of parasitism for a hole-nesting species. The impact of parasitism appeared relatively low, however, compared with other host species. Females accepted parasitism in 81% of cases and were often able to raise most of their young along with the cowbird. Petit (1991) suggested that acceptance of parasitism may be more likely to occur when females have limited opportunities to renest in a different site. Prothonotary warblers therefore may be more strongly impacted by forest management practices that alter habitat or remove valuable cavity trees; with fewer nest-sites, cowbird parasitism will have greater effects. Two females were found dead on their nests by and were believed to have died as a result of prior illness and the energetic demands of reproduction (Petit and Petit 1987).

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Management

Restoration Potential: Restoration currently is not needed. Where the species is of concern (e.g., Rhode Island), it is on the periphery of its range and has never been a common breeder. Should the species decline, restoration/recovery seems highly plausible if the correct habitat is provided.

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: In the mid-Atlantic region, nesting generally occurs in forest tracts of at least 70-100 ha (Robbins 1979, 1980, Whitcomb et al. 1981).

Management Requirements: Among six species that clearly need management and/or monitoring attention overall in the southeastern U.S. (Hunter, unpubl. data). Older trees with cavities should be left intact. Timber harvesting practices (if any) should leave snags of decaying trees uncut, and should also leave small patches permanently uncut to provide older cavity trees in the future. To be suitable, cavity trees should have a dbh of at least 15 cm. Also, permanently uncut buffer zones should be created on both sides of streams to provide thick and shady vegetation along stream banks; these buffer zones are recommended to be at least 90 m wide (Bushman and Therres 1988).

Nest boxes readily are used (Fleming and Petit 1986; Petit et al. 1987; Petit 1989; Blem and Blem 1991, 1992, 1994). See Mitchell (1988) for specifications for the construction and placement of nest boxes. Reduced rates of predation and brood parasitism may occur in boxes compared with natural cavities. Preserves could therefore be more beneficial if filled with nest-boxes, especially in habitats where natural cavities are in short supply and/or house wrens are common. Placement of nest-boxes (over water or over land) can also affect competition from wrens. Prothonotary Warblers that nested over deep (20-100 cm) water in an inland swamp in northern Ohio were more likely to escape competition from wrens (Petit et al., unpubl. data). Predator-free habitat, with high, stable water levels and lower wren populations, appears to be more beneficial than are nest-boxes placed in low-quality habitat (Brush 1991). Because beavers may create suitable habitat, beaver reintroduction in some areas may beneficial, especially in regions like the Piedmont (H. LeGrand, Jr., pers. comm.).

Management Research Needs: Area requirements seem to be the least understood management parameter. Better estimates of minimum viable population size and impacts of cowbird parasitism and competition for nest-sites would also be useful. In addition, the effect of levees on water levels and warbler populations needs to be explored further (Brush 1991); in eastern Iowa, water level management may prove more beneficial than nest supplementation in maintaining or improving habitat.

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Global Protection: Few to several (1-12) occurrences appropriately protected and managed

Comments: Probably there are at least several protected occurrences.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Commonly breeds in the southeastern U.S. wherever there is suitable habitat: wooded wetlands, bottomland hardwood forests, and cypress swamps. Essential habitat requirements are water, shade, and older trees that provide nesting holes. The center of abundance is the South Atlantic Coastal Plain physiographic area. Little is known of winter habitat on the Caribbean slope of Central America, Colombia, and northern Venezuela. Most studies indicate a steady decline in populations of this neotropical migrant since the 1970s. The major threat is loss, degradation, and fragmentation of habitat as many wetlands are either permanently drained or flooded. Some mortality occurs through cowbird parasitism and competition with other species for nest sites. Stewardship needs include determination of the minimum area requirements for viable breeding populations and better censusing studies that penetrate this species' habitat.

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Wikipedia

Prothonotary warbler

The prothonotary warbler (Protonotaria citrea) is a small songbird of the New World warbler family. It is the only member of the genus Protonotaria.[2]

Description[edit]

The prothonotary warbler is 13 cm (5.1 in) long and weighs 12.5 g (0.44 oz). It has an olive back with blue-grey wings and tail, yellow underparts, a relatively long pointed bill and black legs. The adult male has a bright orange-yellow head. Females and immature birds are duller and have a yellow head. In flight from below, the short, wide tail has a distinctive two-toned pattern, white at the base and dark at the tip.[3]

Distribution[edit]

It breeds in hardwood swamps in extreme southeastern Ontario and eastern United States. It winters in the West Indies, Central America and northern South America.[4] It is a rare vagrant to western states, most notably California.

Behavior and ecology[edit]

Painting by John James Audubon

It is the only eastern warbler that nests in natural or artificial cavities, sometimes using old downy woodpecker holes. The male often builds several incomplete, unused nests in his territory; the female builds the real nest. It lays 3–7 eggs.

The preferred foraging habitat is dense, woody streams, where the prothonotary warbler forages actively in low foliage, mainly for insects and snails.

The song of this bird is a simple, loud, ringing sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet-sweet. The call is a loud, dry chip, like that of a hooded warbler. Its flight call is a loud seeep.[5]

Status[edit]

These birds are declining in numbers due to loss of habitat. They are also parasitized by the brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), or outcompeted for nest sites by the house wren (Troglodytes aedon). It is listed as endangered in Canada. The species persists in protected environments such as South Carolina's Francis Beidler Forest currently home to more than 2,000 pairs, the densest known population.[6]

In culture[edit]

This bird was named after officials in the Roman Catholic Church known as the protonotarii, who wore golden robes. It was once known as the golden swamp warbler.[7]

The prothonotary warbler became known in the 1940s as the bird that, in front of the House Un-American Activities Committee, established a connection between Whittaker Chambers and Alger Hiss. Chambers had testified that Hiss enjoyed bird-watching, and once bragged about seeing a prothonotary warbler. Hiss later testified to the same incident, causing many members to become convinced of the pair's acquaintance.[8][9][10]

This bird is mentioned in A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold as the "[J]ewel of my disease-ridden woodlot", "as proof that dead trees are transmuted into living animals, and vice versa. When you doubt the wisdom of this arrangement, take a look at the prothonotary." [11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Protonotaria citrea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ Curson, Jon; Quinn, David; Beadle, David (1994). New World Warblers. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 159–161. ISBN 0-7136-3932-6. 
  3. ^ Dunne, Pete (2006). Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion. Houghton Mifflin. 
  4. ^ Stiles, Gary; Skutch, Alexander (1989). A Guide to the Birds of Costa Rica. Cornell University Press. ISBN 0-8014-9600-4. 
  5. ^ Alderfer, Jonathan (2006). National Geographic Complete Birds of North America. National Geographic Society. 
  6. ^ "BirdWatching:Francis Beidler Forest, Harleyville, South Carolina.". Feb 15, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bird: The definitive visual guide. DK Publishing. 2007. 
  8. ^ Chambers, Whittaker (1952). Witness. Random House. pp. 362, 564, 572, 573, 580. ISBN 0-89526-571-0. 
  9. ^ Linder, Doug (2003). "The Trials of Alger Hiss: A Commentary". Famous Trials. University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law. 
  10. ^ Miller, John J. (30 April 2007). "The Unsung Hero of the Cold War". National Review. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. 
  11. ^ Aldo Leopold (1996). A Sand County Almanac. The Random House Publishing Group. p. 82. 
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