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The cover story of our May/June 2022 issue looks at the Prothonotary Warbler and the work of the Jackson Audubon Society in Jackson, Mississippi, as it annually monitors the local Prothonotary Warbler population.
The striking species of warbler breeds in the eastern United States and southern Ontario – from Minnesota to Texas to Florida – in lowland hardwood forests, bald cypress swamps and the along major rivers and lakes. “The current population is about 1.6 million birds,” writes Charles Pfeifer, the author of our article. “Some would say it’s not that bad. After all, many threatened species have fewer than 100 individuals. The problem is that the warbler has seen an alarming 40% decline in population since the 1960s. Additionally, after widespread logging of lowland cypress swamps and hardwood forests in the late 1800s and in the early 1900s, the number that remains today is a small fraction of what once was.
The species can be seen in many places in North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America. (Read more on eBird.) Here are 10 hotspots where you’re sure to spot warblers:
- Atchafalaya Basin, Louisiana. Hosts about 5 percent of the world’s breeding population. Go to Whiskey Bay Road and Indian Bayou Road. The basin is larger than the Florida Everglades and five times more biologically productive than any other river basin in North America.
- Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve (Barataria Preserve, Hotspot Near You No. 135), near New Orleans, Louisiana. Try the Bayou Coquille Trail.
- Mississippi Coastal Bird Trail, Ward Bayou WMA, Vancleave, Mississippi.
- Pascagoula River WMA in southern Mississippi.
- Francis Beidler Forest, South Carolina, Hotspot Near You No. 158. An Audubon center and sanctuary. The largest virgin swamp forest of cypress and tupelo in the world.
- Congaree National Park, South Carolina. Largest remaining intact expanse of lowland old-growth hardwood forest in the southeastern United States.
- Swamp Wildlife Management Area, Corydon, Kentucky.
- Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife Refuge, along the Iowa-Illinois border.
- Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge (Hotspot Near You No. 21) and Fort Snelling State Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
- Salamanca Island Road National Park, Colombia. Hosts 2 to 3 percent of wintering population.
Expanded reserve protects warbler wintering grounds