The Prothonotary Warbler first noticed by the birding world over a week ago was still hanging out at the “main branch” of the New York Public Library at 5th Ave between 40th and 42nd Streets as recently as yesterday.  The bird was NOT seen today and many think it has moved on, spurred by the front that came through.  While it was here some fascinating information came out about the individual bird and the species in general and a “flame war” erupted on the local birding listserv about how folks were treating the bird.  Essentially, it seems that the bird had been around for at least two weeks and perhaps for as long as a month before being spotted and reported by a birder.  The two homeless men who reported the bird’s long stay have been judged as less than reliable, sadly, not because they are homeless but because they made their report to a birder at just after seven in the morning when they were already drinking (and calling the bird a canary).  Nonetheless, it is apparent that the bird had been around for awhile and had learned to tolerate the close quarters that living in Manhattan requires.  I made a couple of return visits since my initial one with Desi and enjoyed seeing not just the bird but the joy on the faces of others, birders and not, seeing the Prothonotary Warbler for the first time.

Sadly, in addition to living like a Manhattanite, the bird also started to eat like a Manhattanite, with bread being the most-reported item the bird took but also rice from Chinese take-out, which you can see in the above image (the rice, which was feared to be rich in sodium, was removed by a concerned birder shortly after that picture was taken).  The bird’s diet, which also included expected items like tiny invertebrates, was one portion of the intense debate on the city’s listserv, with arguments over whether or not the bird should be taken into captivity a close second.  Personally, I like Will’s idea of going to the library on Halloween dressed as a miner, carrying an empty cage and saying that my canary died but I had heard that a replacement was available.  Of course, I would probably not survive to post another blog post but it would be pretty freaking hilarious.

Anyway, here is an assortment of images that I got on my return visits.  They are fair-to-middling compared to shots that some others got but I am pleased with them and I hope you are too.

Here’s hoping that the little yellow bird made a safe journey last night and is well on his way to more proper wintering grounds.  Though if someone finds a Prothonotary Warbler in Canada in the next couple of days I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.

Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy and Desmond Shearwater. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.