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Migration Patterns of the Prothonotary Warbler

Making It Grow Radio Minute
SC Public Radio

Prothonotary warblers have strong site fidelity. Although they have a large nesting area in the US, individual birds return to the place of their birth. Males stake out a territory and fill cavities with moss, tempting females to use them. But after mating, the female chooses the actual nesting site and constructs the nest, using moss, cypress needles, leaves, and other materials, usually laying 4-6 eggs. At Beidler, researchers band warblers and have documented that some birds use the exact same nesting cavity year after year. The success they have in rearing babies without losing them to snakes, raccoons and other predators appears to strengthen their allegiance to a particular site. Imagine flying thousands of miles to wintering grounds in Central and South America then making a return flight to the exact same hole in a cypress knee the following year.

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Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.