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Prothonotary Warbler Partnership

In 2020 we started a partnership with prothonotary warblers. It started with placing some nest boxes up along the Paw Paw River to create an easier opportunity for paddlers to see and enjoy these species of special concern in Michigan. We have led several paddling events to see these warblers and nest boxes but have yet to get a warbler to nest successfully in our man-made nest boxes. We are still figuring out what it takes to have them nest successfully in the nest boxes. While we figure this out we have started a new phase of the partnership and need your help to collect and record sightings to help us understand where these warblers are using the watersheds.

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. Log onto Ebird and explore their abundance maps which show sightings by community members. Find an blank spot on the map where the river runs and see if you can go there and make observations of these warblers. Maybe there is a park nearby or a bridge crossing the river. Respect private property. Record these on Ebird so we can know that these warblers are found there.

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.

Thanks for your help!!

This page last updated on 3/29/2023.

Thank you for visiting and we hope to see you soon!