Sunday, June 12, 2011
Today, and for the second time in my life, I was “checked-out” by a Prothonotary Warbler, but this time it was an absolute stunner! I had been birding with Dottie Johnson and Sylvia Marek most of the day and on our last stop we wanted to check in on a nest cavity belonging to a pair of Prothontary Warblers.
We stood on the trail within sight of the cavity and watched the warbler pair through our binoculars. The male poked his head out, looked in both directions, and then made a quick dash to our left. Moments later I heard a few tsp-tsp call notes from close by. I put my bins down to look and to my utter astonishment the male was perched on a thin branch looking directly at us from several feet away.
At this particular point, neither Dottie nor Sylvia noticed just how close the bird had gotten to us and continued to watch the cavity through their binoculars. Standing behind the two of them, I tapped Dottie on the shoulder and whispered, "Look!" Without extending my arm, I pointed to the bird. We froze. The golden swamp sprite hopped a branch closer and then again to another branch even closer still, and kept coming until it was no more than a foot away from Sylvia's face.
Cocking its head, the warbler silently inspected us and seemed to be paying careful attention to our faces. I couldn't believe it! I had a huge grin on my face while this was happening! Suddenly, an insect caught the bird's attention and flew across the trail to catch it. When Dottie and Sylvia turned around I could see that their cheeks were covered with tears of joy. Truly an amazing experience the three of us will never forget!
Prothontary Warbler © 2011 Mike McDowell