This Prothonotary warbler looks like a bit of spring sunlight with its golden-yellow head and breast set off by blue-gray wings. “Prothonotary” refers to clerks in the Roman Catholic Church, whose robes were bright yellow. To a Prothonotary Warbler, a great breeding habitat features dead snags and trees full of holes, always near water—whether rivers, swamps, or bottomland forests. The Audubon Center at Beidler Forest, South Carolina is home to numerous Prothonotary warblers.
The National Audubon Society’s Francis Beidler Forest in Four Holes Swamp contains within its 18,000+ acres, the largest remaining stand of virgin Bald Cypress/Tupelo Gum swamp forest left anywhere in the world. One thousand year-old trees and native wildlife abound in this pristine sanctuary that has been untouched for millennia.
On our camera club field trip, we were underwhelmed by the number of birds and wildlife that we saw, but viewing the swamp from the boardwalk was worthwhile.
A cypress knee is a distinctive structure forming above the roots of a cypress tree. Their function is unknown, but they are generally seen on trees growing in swamps. Some current hypotheses state that they might help to aerate the tree’s roots, create a barrier to catch sediment and reduce erosion, assist in anchoring the tree in the soft and muddy soil, or any combination thereof.