Things are happening at Brownell Memorial Park and Carillon Tower. The place is buzzing with bird activity. Breeding season is in full swing! The 9.5 acre memorial park sits on the edge of Lake Palourde in Morgan City, Louisiana. It’s truly a little gem of a place to visit. So come on by to take a stroll and observe the natural beauty of the swamp, with its moss-laden cypress trees and picturesque view of the lake.
While you’re there, be on the lookout for one of the swamps crown jewels, the Prothonotary Warbler! Brownell Memorial Park is a perfect place for Prothonotary Warblers to start a family. These golden songbirds are back in town, and they’ve been busy since their arrival. The birds left their winter home in Central or South America and began to arrive in late March.
The males investigate every nook and cranny to see if it has what it takes to be a suitable home to raise young, and if it has potential, they’ll drop a few cypress leaves in it to mark their territory and show it off to the ladies.
Prothonotary Warblers are the only eastern wood warbler to nest in natural cavities, usually in old Downy Woodpecker holes or dead snags. They also have an attraction to water; you can’t blame them for wanting a house with a view! The species prefers wetland habitat in both its summer and winter range, and its extreme habitat specificity make Prothonotary Warblers a well-suited indicator species of wetland quality. Unfortunately, the species population has declined 40 percent since the 1960s. Habitat loss in both its breeding and wintering grounds along with pollution, pesticides, changes in hydrology, window and building collisions, and cowbird parasitism may be escalating the population declines.
This year, Prothonotary’s have some new housing options to choose from at Brownell Memorial Park. BTNEP hosted a Prothonotary Warbler nest box building workshop earlier this spring with Boy Scout Troop 453, thanks again for your help Boy Scouts! Sixteen of the nest boxes were installed throughout the park, each equipped with predator guards to deter snakes and other potential predators from raiding the nests. Past studies have indicated that the breeding density of Prothonotary Warblers can increase 5-6 times with the addition of nest boxes while increasing the annual reproductive success of individuals.
The ultimate decision of where to build a nest is up to the female. Once she’s approved of her suitor’s choice, she begins the interior decorating…
And once the nest is complete… it’s time to make the house… a home!
Fast forward 12-14 days…. and we have chicks!
Ten days after hatching, they’re ready to fledge and leave the nest box. On May 13th, I discovered one of the fledglings from box B09 exploring life outside of the nest box.
But it still depends on mom for yummy food!
When you have many mouths to feed, it’s best to divide and conquer. Mom continued to bring food to the fledgling in the tree, while dad tended to the last sibling that had yet to leave the safety and comfort of the nest box.
Three pairs of Prothonotary Warblers have nested in our boxes thus far, laying 6 eggs in each box and producing up to 16 fledglings, with more to come!
Cheers to you, little one, we wish you the best of luck!
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
― Rachel Carson,