Congratulations to Craig Hunt for winning the June 2023 Photo-observation of the Month for the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist! His photos of a rare Prothonotary Warbler perched on his truck’s windshield received the most faves of any iNaturalist observation in Vermont during the past month.
The shining yellow body and head and slate-blue wings of the Prothonotary Warbler are more often seen in southern swamps than green mountains, but every now and then one of these gems finds its way to Vermont. Craig’s encounter with this Prothonotary Warbler marks only the second time this species has been reported in Vermont during the month of June! Named for their resemblance to the yellow robes of papal clerks (prothonotaries) of the Roman Catholic church, the Prothonotary Warbler also holds a fascinating place in US History. In a story involving Cold War espionage, amateur ornithology, and even a dash of Richard Nixon, the Prothonotary Warbler plays a major role! Like any iNaturalist observation, Craig’s photos raise more questions than they answer. Is this bird aggressively interacting with its reflection in the windshield? Is it perhaps instead investigating the similarly yellow VT state inspection sticker? Is this bird scouring Townshend, VT for a mate or a place to set up a nest? Or is it instead an unpaired male that wandered northward with the aid of a tailwind? Either way, many thanks to Craig for sharing his encounter with a spectacular rare warbler!
Visit the Vermont Atlas of Life on iNaturalist where you can vote for the winner this month by clicking the ‘fave’ star on your favorite photo-observation. Make sure you get outdoors and record the biodiversity around you, then submit your discoveries and you could be a winner!