The Prothonotary Warbler – Audubon Society circa 1939

Sometime before the quarantine began, I picked up a small collection of bird pictures.

The illustrations were published by the Audubon Society and sold in sets of 50.

For $1.50, one could order the complete set, “Summer Birds of Eastern North America” from the headquarters of the Audubon Society in New York City.

Number 37 in the series is the Prothonotary Warbler whose range extended into Maryland during the summer months.

With the increase in average summer temperatures during the last 30 years, it is likely that the birds would now summer in Pennsylvania – if sufficient numbers of this species still exist.

The decline of American songbird populations is one of the tragedies of our disordered times.

This bird has an unusual name; A “Prothonotary” is the Chief Clerk of the Court.

A quick web search rreveals the origin of the name:

The Prothonotary Warbler apparently acquired its current name from Louisiana Creoles in the 18th century. They thought the bird’s plumage resembled the yellow robes of the prothonotaries, a Catholic church official who advises the Pope.


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