Prothonotary Warbler Building Nest

At the Sequoyah National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, I had the opportunity to photograph the impressive nest-building skills of the Prothonotary Warbler. While driving down a dead end road that leads to Sally Jones Lake, I discovered this tiny bird constructing its nest in a dead tree. Fortunately, I was able to park my pickup at the turnaround (Baker Parking Area) and observe the entire process up close.

With my camera at the ready, I watched as the Prothonotary Warbler skillfully gathered bits of nesting material to create a cozy home for its young. The bird worked tirelessly, darting back and forth from the hole in the tree to collect more supplies.

Prothonotary Warbler Building Nest
Prothonotary Warbler Building Nest

The Prothonotary Warbler is one of the few American warblers that habitually build their nests in cavities. They use old woodpecker holes, hollow stumps, and nest boxes. The male selects several nesting sites throughout his territory, but the female ultimately selects which one to use. The nests are often near or over water to take advantage of seasonal resources. The Prothonotary Warbler places its nest in holes created by woodpeckers and chickadees, in natural holes in standing dead trees, and in nest boxes.

The nesting season for Prothonotary Warblers begins in early April when males arrive on nesting grounds about a week before females. Males establish territories by singing, vigorous displays, chases, and fighting. The female lays at least five eggs in the nest, which she incubates for about 12 days. The female spends most of her time on the nest, leaving only for short periods to feed and preen. The young are fed by both parents and leave the nest 10-11 days after hatching. Prothonotary Warblers can have two broods per year.

I was using a Canon EOS 7D Mark II camera with a Canon EF 500 mm f/4L IS USM lens. I had this setup resting on a bean bag draped over the open window of my pickup.

Taken on April 28, 2020, at 07:38 A.M.

Camera Settings

  • AV Mode
  • Aperture f5.6
  • ISO: 2000
  • Shutter speed: 1/640 sec.
  • Exposure Bias: +1/2 EV
  • Focal Length: 500 mm

Here is another photo I took of a Prothonotary Warbler: Prothonotary Warbler With Spider