Panther Island Adventures!

Panther Island is 2,800 acres of restored wetland and upland habitats situated in the northwest corner of Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary's 13,000 acres. It is home to numerous plants and animals including the Florida panther and the iconic wood stork.
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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New critter: Prairie Warbler

Male prairie warbler

A recent first for me, the prairie warbler (Setophaga discolor) is a beautiful tail-bobbing songbird. Found in the southeastern United States, this bird haunts various shrubby habitats from forests to open fields but generally not in prairies. Go figure! There is a resident population and migratory population in Florida; however, the resident populations tend to be in the mangroves and are considered a different subspecies. They are slightly larger and have larger white spots on their tails.

The males of this species actually sings two songs. The first song is directed at females and is for courtship and display while the second is a territorial song. These two songs differ subtly in speed and volume. Prairie warblers consume insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates that they glean from leaves and branches. On occasion though they can be seen hawking prey midair.

Their nests are open cups of plant fibers and other materials placed less than 10 feet (3 meters) above the ground. The interior is lined with moss, feathers, and fine grasses. Clutch size is from 2-5 eggs and the hatchlings are altricial at birth. And interestingly, the female prairie warbler will eat the eggshells after the young hatch, often within 15-90 seconds!

While this species is currently of "least concern" their numbers are declining, primarily due to breeding habitat loss from development as well as the natural cycle of shrubby habitats into forests.


  1. A first? You must not get out much. Lol. Prairie Warblers are fairly common throughout SW FL. . . . .

  2. I get out plenty...30+ hours a week I am on site in the woods. However I am usually looking down at invasive grasses and miss alot of the smaller birds.