In South Carolina, conservationists provide much-needed nesting habitat for declining prothonotary warblers
A female prothonotary warbler peers out from a nest cavity in a cypress knee. Development, timber harvests and competition with other bird species have significantly reduced the number of such natural nest sites.
A BRIGHT SPLASH OF COLOR amidst the muted tones of a flooded forest, the prothonotary warbler is nicknamed “swamp canary” for its vivid golden feathers and the male’s lyrical springtime song. “That sweet, sweet, sweet song is a sound that says you’re in a Carolina swamp,” says Jay Keck (pictured), a habitat manager for National Wildlife Federation affiliate South Carolina Wildlife Federation (SCWF).
Sadly, the bird’s song has faded in recent years as timber harvesting and development destroy its habitat. The species’ numbers fell 42 percent from 1966 to 2015. Since 2019, Keck has been working to bring back the birds across his home state through Project Prothonotary, an effort to install nest boxes that replace lost nest sites in trees. The project also features public education. “If we can get landowners to fall in love with this bird,” he says, “they may say ‘no’ when a developer offers to buy the land.”
A new storymap connects the dots between extreme weather and climate change and illustrates the harm these disasters inflict on communities and wildlife.Learn More
Take the Clean Earth Challenge and help make the planet a happier, healthier place.Learn More
Promoting more-inclusive outdoor experiences for allRead More
A groundbreaking bipartisan bill aims to address the looming wildlife crisis before it's too late, while creating sorely needed jobs.Read More
More than one-third of U.S. fish and wildlife species are at risk of extinction in the coming decades. We're on the ground in seven regions across the country, collaborating with 52 state and territory affiliates to reverse the crisis and ensure wildlife thrive.