Protonotaria citrea
Prothonotary warbler

Key Characteristics

Prothonotary warblers have several unique characteristics that help in their identification. They are bright golden yellow on the head, breast, and belly (males more so than females) with an olive green back, gray wings, and white undertail coverts. Males have a darker bill than females. They are one of only two cavity nesting warblers in North America and the only one in Michigan.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: SC
  • State Rank: S3
  • Global Rank: G5

Occurrences

County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Allegan32005
Berrien42005
Branch21997
Calhoun21997
Clinton12000
Eaton12007
Gratiot12006
Ingham12012
Ionia12000
Kalamazoo42014
Macomb12003
Muskegon32005
Oceana11999
Saginaw12003
St. Joseph21997
Van Buren12001
Wayne12006
Distribution map for Protonotaria citrea

Updated 7/21/2017. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.

Habitat

The Prothonotary warbler is a hole-nesting warbler which will accept bird houses. In southern Michigan the preferred habitat is bottom land forests with streams from 20-40 m wide bordered by red maple and associated trees.

Specific Habitat Needs

Snag/cavity needed in Southern hardwood swamp, Floodplain forest

Natural Community Types

Methodology

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management

Efforts should be made to preserve and expand existing floodplain and swamp forests which may help to reduce the percentage of nests lost to Brown-headed cowbird parasitism, predators like raccoons, and competition with House wrens for cavities. Older trees in particular provide the snags and rotten branches that may support nest cavities, and should be maintained, especially close to the riverbank. They will use nest boxes successfully and will particularly benefit from this practice where competition with House wrens for a limited number of cavities is strong. Creating buffers where logging is not permitted may ensure that enough trees can mature, thereby providing nest cavities that are lost when snags, trees, and rotten branches fall. Predator control may help in areas with limited habitat and high predator densities.

Active Period

Migration from third week of April to first week of May

Nesting from first week of May to fourth week of June

Migration from third week of August to fourth week of September

Survey Methods

While Prothonotary warblers, like most songbirds, sing most actively near sunrise their vibrant coloration and strict requirement for floodplain/swamp forest makes them relatively easy to spot throughout the day while canoeing in habitat. The song is a series of 5 - 12 upslurred "sweet" or "tweet" notes.

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Sep 20, 2017]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract

References

Survey References

Technical References

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