After a weekend away from email, I was stunned to see that Mary Lou reported a Prothonotary Warbler Sunday morning at Nahanton Park. This is the second time this spring that Mary Lou has found a new bird for Nahanton Park, previously it was the Yellow-throated Warbler. The Prothonotary Warbler typically inhabits more southern swamp lands, so to have one visit us wonderful.
Monday morning, I decided to try for the Prothonotary as it would be a life bird. When I arrived, I tallied birds as I walked from the Winchester St. entrance towards the river. But the Yellow Warblers, CommonYellowthroats, and American Redstarts couldn’t keep me long. I was on a mission.
When I arrived the river, the first people I ran into were Haynes and Pete, fresh from their own sightings of the Prothonotary. Buoyed by the good news, I set off down Florrie’s Path straining my ears to try and catch the loud ringing “sweet sweet sweet” song repeated on one pitch. Another birder, and walked the path looking for motion and listening intently. I started to hear a two-parted song, with the first few notes at a lower pitch, before rising into a decisive “sweet sweet”. It almost ended like a Prothonotary, but not having heard one sing before, I couldn’t be sure. But as it was the only song we couldn’t recognize we started scanning the far bank for this bright yellow bird.
So while its fantastic for us that we get to experience him, I do wonder what happens to these wayward migrants. Do they eventually realize they aren’t in the right place and then fly back south? Is he going to hang out up north going bust on this year’s breeding season and hit the reset button when he migrates south for winter? Or is there another possibility that I haven’t thought of? If only his “sweet sweet sweet” song could tell us.