Monday, April 25, 2011

Golden Swamp Warbler!

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

Canada Goose
Wood Duck
Blue-winged Teal
Green Heron
Cooper's Hawk
Broad-winged Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Spotted Sandpiper
Ring-billed Gull
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker
Downy Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Eastern Phoebe
Blue Jay
American Crow
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Tree Swallow
Barn Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
House Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
European Starling
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Pine Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Louisiana Waterthrush
Chipping Sparrow
Clay-colored Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Song Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow
White-throated Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Northern Cardinal
Red-winged Blackbird
Eastern Meadowlark
Common Grackle
Brown-headed Cowbird
House Finch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

All images © 2011 Mike McDowell


  1. Wow...I have never seen one...see that they nest in SE and SW Wisconsin though..great pics!

  2. Great images and an awesome day of birding, Mike!

  3. Thanks! Certainly one of my favorite warblers!


  4. Its fabulous!!!! I love this images.. this Golden Swamp Warbler is looking beautiful and very cute.. I'm collecting bird's pictures form more blogs. but I've not seen before this great one.thanks for this.

  5. PW's near Madison and I still have Juncos and Tree Sparrows in my yard in Green Bay on April 27!