Tag Archives: Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary warbler in NH in November


This little lost bird is a Prothonotary Warbler, according to better birders than I.

I spotted it Tuesday around 1:40 p.m. in the rocks by the ocean, while walking on the sidewalk along Route 1A/ Ocean Boulevard, north of the fish houses in North Hampton, New Hampshire.


I thought it was a warbler, migrating south a bit late, and I could ID it when I got home. But I had trouble figuring out what it was and so I posted photos on Flickr and asked for help.

A NH birder helpfully IDed it yesterday evening and suggested I post it to the NH Birds Google group, which I did.


Apparently this bird is rarely sighted in New Hampshire, even in summer. It should be down in Central or South America in November.


A brilliant yellow-orange bird of southeastern wooded swamps, the Prothonotary Warbler is a striking sight.


Little bird, big rocks. Wonder if a storm brought this bird to us?

I went back to look for this bird again this morning and did not find it. Not surprised. Didn’t look like the best habitat for a warbler.


Why the strange long name, I wondered.

From an article on The Swamp Songster, Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center…

Once dubbed the “Golden Swamp Warbler” because of its partiality to flooded forests, this striking warbler acquired its current name from 18th century Louisiana Creoles who thought the bird’s plumage resembled the golden robes of the protonotarius, a Catholic church official who advised the Pope.


Prothonotaries spend the nonbreeding season in southern Central America and northern South America, with their highest numbers in Costa Rica, Panama, and northern Colombia. There the prothonotary inhabits another watery realm, mangrove swamps. In the mangroves of Panama, the warbler can reach such high population density that early ornithologists described “swarms” of prothonotary warblers.

Wish I could pick up that little bird and put her on a plane to Panama!


From the NH Birds Google group on Nov. 12