Prothonotary Warbler strikes a pose.
After being captivated by three Pine Warblers foraging together in the grass near the Parmenter Street bridge on Sunday, Dottie Johnson and I simultaneously locked on an even brighter yellow bird perched in the thicket along the creek bank. We were rendered speechless for a few seconds as our minds worked to make the identification of the bird. I finally acknowledged "Prothonotary Warbler!" We weren't expecting that!
While the record-early for Prothonotary Warbler in Dane County is April 16th, I typically don't see them (if at all) at Pheasant Branch Conservancy until the end of the first week of May. This dazzling 'golden swamp warbler' spent most of its time foraging in the grass along the bank. To our delight, we also got to watch it bathe and preen.
Preening after a bath.
Certainly one of the most stunning birds you can see in southern Wisconsin, Dottie mentioned this was the species that got her interested in birding in the first place. As a few other birders joined us, a few non-birders stopped and asked what we were watching. I let them use my binoculars and even got the bird in my spotting scope for them; they were amazed by the bird's awesome colors. A memory now recorded in photographs, you can see why this exquisite bird has inspired people to become more interested in birds.
Location: Pheasant Branch
Observation date: 4/24/11
Number of species: 55
Great Horned Owl
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
All images © 2011 Mike McDowell