A Prothonotary Warbler perched on the wooden railing of a bridge spanning a small stream. I was a bit shaky when I took this photo. He surprised me by flying in so close, which sort of sent me for a loop! You know that feeling...you're trying to move quickly and slowly at the same time while adrenalin floods your system and you forget to breathe... I didn't really pull this shot off, but you can see how he was fanning out his tail feathers to display for the female.
He soon flew down on the trail and started hopping around, spreading his tail feathers even more and leaning a little off balance. At first I thought he was hurt, but then I realized he was exhibiting courtship behavior and showing off his lovely tail for a female up in the tree. Every couple seconds he would look up to see if she was still watching him…
...this is the first time I've had a Prothonotary Warbler walking the trail with me!
He would hop a little and look up, then move forward and look up again. It took me a while to figure out he was looking up to make sure the female was paying attention to him.
...he continued to hop forward, fanning his tail.
...look at that cute little eye. He is soooo looking up to make sure his honey is watching him!
Eventually he flew up into the tree, and I walked on. If the couple was nesting close by I didn’t want to disturb them. Prothonotary Warblers are the only warblers in our area that nest in tree cavities, and they often nest over water, so this slow-moving stream would be a perfect place for a nest site. I read a long time ago that fledgling Prothonotary Warblers are born with the ability to swim. Since their nest cavities are often over water, it's not uncommon for them to fall out of the nest and into the water! The Smithsonian’s Migratory Bird Center’s site confirms this, as does the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Nestwatcher’s Resource Center.
Holy Cow...it's been over two weeks since I posted!!
What is up with that? I have so many photos and half-written posts in the pipe. I really need to get cracking and get these things up. I also haven't been able to get out and visit anyone's blog. Things have been so busy, but there is light at the end of the tunnel (I hope it's not the train!).
...I thought I'd sneak this one in. If you look a third of the way down on the right, you can see the silhouette of the Barred Owl sitting on a branch overhanging the stream. I was shooting through a dogwood in blossom, and he was just a spec with the naked eye. I've cropped the image a lot to show him. In person, the view was gorgeous. I've found him in this exact spot many times...