Revered conservationist and author Aldo Leopold had a special appreciation for Prothonotary Warbler. The bird is the subject of Mac Stone’s cover story in our August 2015 issue.
“Soon after I bought the woods a decade ago,” Leopold wrote in A Sand County Almanac, “I realized that I had bought almost as many tree diseases as I had trees. My woodlot is riddled by all the ailments wood is heir to. I began to wish that Noah, when he loaded up the Ark, had left the tree diseases behind. But it soon became clear that these same diseases made my woodlot a mighty fortress, unequaled in the whole county….
“The real jewel of my disease-ridden woodlot is the prothonotary warbler. He nests in an old woodpecker hole, or other small cavity, in a dead snag overhanging water. The flash of his gold-and-blue plumage amid the dank decay of the June woods is in itself proof that dead trees are transmuted into living animals, and vice versa. When you doubt the wisdom of this arrangement, take a look at the prothonotary.”
Prothonotary Warbler at Rend Lake, near Benton, Illinois, by Maureen Sanders.
We found Aldo Leopold’s description of his woodlot in “November: A Mighty Fortress,” a chapter in his famous book A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There (Oxford University Press, 1949).
New to BirdWatching?
Sign up for our free e-newsletter to receive news, photos of birds, attracting and ID tips, descriptions of birding hotspots, and more delivered to your inbox every other week. Sign up now.