The Paw Paw and Black River Watersheds drain 4 counties over some 733 square miles. Advocating for these large watershed’s requires both focused data and good quality data. Community science data collected on Ebird has been able to supply this need in many ways.
To help TRC monitor the health of the watersheds, the Ebird records for the Prothonotary Warbler are important. The Prothonotary Warbler is considered an indicator species of the flood plain forest and wetlands. The presence of the Prothonotary Warblers in these habitats within the watersheds provide some indication of good ecological health.
"Indicator species provide important information on habitat quality and the ecological integrity of ecosystems. Indicator species have been studied to sound the alarm when ecosystems are degraded or threatened, but they also may be used to measure the success of habitat management and conservation activities." Hoover, Jeffrey P. 2009. “Prothonotary Warblers as Indicators of Hydrological Conditions in Bottomland Forests.” In Proceedings of the Fourth International Partners in Flight Conference: Tundra to Tropics, edited by Terrell D. Rich, Coro Arizmendi, Dean W. Demarest, and Craig Thompson, 128–137. Partners in Flight.
We encourage the community to help us add to this Ebird dataset and fill in the gaps in our watershed where the Prothonotary Warblers are found and maybe nesting. We also host a paddling event in June to explore the river for an up-close encounter with these beautiful warblers. We have installed nest boxes in some areas to augment the nesting sites for the warbler and to provide more readily accessible site for watching these colorful birds as they tend to their parenting duties.
Learn more about TRC's Prothonotary Warbler Nest Box Project in the ArcGIS Story Map: Prothonotary Warblers at Home on the Paw Paw River