Some Birds Prefer the Savanna

by Carl Strang

Yesterday I made a case for why migrant birds may prefer a habitat that, from an ecologist’s perspective, would seem inferior. But at Mayslake Forest Preserve, a few migrants have shown a preference for the more open savanna. It’s no surprise that one of these is the clay-colored sparrow.

This bird often forages on the ground, and prefers more open savanna habitats.

Somewhat more of a head scratcher last week was a prothonotary warbler.

This beautiful bird, the first of its kind I’ve seen at Mayslake, foraged and sang its way through the oak canopy of the north savanna.

I have come to think of prothonotary warblers as streamside skulkers. This one seemed uncharacteristically exposed in the oaks. On the other hand, it remained within 75 meters of Mayslake’s stream and lakeshore, and never went into the upper canopy, so I am left with simply an expanded understanding of this uncommon warbler’s capabilities.


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