Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea)


French: Paruline orangée German: Zitronenwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita protonotaria

Motacilla citrea


, 1783,

Louisiana, USA


Has hybridized with Setophaga petechia. Monotypic.


SE Canada (extreme SE Ontario) and E USA from Great Lakes area S locally (excluding Appalachians) to C Texas and N & C Florida. Migrates to area from SE Mexico S to N South America (S to Ecuador and the Guianas), and Caribbean.

Descriptive notes

13–15 cm; 13·6–20 g. Male has brilliant golden-yellow head, throat and breast, prominent black eye; upperparts green, wing and tail blue-grey, tail with... read more


Song a series of 5–12 loud, clear ringing “sweee” notes on one pitch, each note... read more


Breeds in flooded or swampy forest, riparian corridors, and mature woodland where there are dead... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds mainly on insects and other arthropods, including crustaceans and molluscs on occasion; also takes fruits, seeds and nectar,... read more


Season Apr–Jul; regularly double-brooded in S of breeding range. Nest a cup of mosses, feathers and roots, placed in natural cavity... read more


Medium-distance to long-distance migrant. Leaves breeding grounds mainly in late Jul and early Aug... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Listed as a species of conservation concern by US Fish & Wildlife Service. Locally common throughout most of range; considered... read more

Recommended citation

Curson, J. (2019). Prothonotary Warbler (Protonotaria citrea). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 8 December 2019).