Protonotaria Citrea – Prothonotary Warbler

Protonotaria Citrea - Prothonotary Warbler found in the US

The prothonotary warbler, Protonotaria citrea is a tiny warbler species native to the New World. It is the genus Protonotaria’s sole representative.

Quick Overview: Protonotaria Citrea – Prothonotary Warbler
Body size: Around 5.25 in (13 cm) and a weight of 14 g (.5 oz)
Main colors: Olive-Green, Blue-Gray, Yellow, White, Black
Range: Eastern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Prothonotary Warbler Description

A warbler of medium size, with an olive-green back and blue-gray wings and tail. Yellow is used for the head, neck, and underparts, while white is used for the under tail coverts. Black is the color of the bill, the legs, and the feet.

Protonotaria Citrea - Prothonotary Warbler found in the US
Protonotaria Citrea – Prothonotary Warbler. Photo by: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren


These birds have a length of 5.25 in (13 cm) and a weight of 14 g (.5 oz). Their wings could range from 8.5 in (22 cm).


Prothonotary Warblers are largely insectivorous, preferring the adult and larval forms of butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera), flies (Diptera), beetles (Coleoptera), and spiders (Araneae). Additionally, they eat seeds and fruits on occasion, particularly during the non-breeding season.


Prothonotary warbler is a water-loving species that spends its life around or next to many types of water formations, including lakes, creeks, swamps, and flooded woodlands. They have been discovered occasionally around swimming pools or house ponds. Protonotaria citrea are rare among warblers in that they reproduce in cavities that have been created naturally, by woodpeckers, or by humans.


During the breeding season, prothonotary warblers are territorial. When confronted with a conspecific invader, both females and males exhibit agonistic behavior. They approach their opponent in an erect, “Head-Up Posture,” and then chase them with chasing and bill snapping.

Protonotaria Citrea Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Parulidae
  • Genus: Protonotaria
  • Species: Protonotaria citrea

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Prothonotary Warbler in the USA

Breeds primarily in the southern and southeastern United States, as well as in Minnesota, Michigan, and New York. It may appear from California to Maine during migration. Winters in the tropics, ranging from the Yucatan Peninsula’s coast to locations further south.

The Prothonotary Warbler can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Protonotaria Citrea – Prothonotary Warbler

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