Date: 12/26/17 10:14 am
From: Jerry Davis <jwdavis...>
Subject: Fw: [OKBIRDS] Prothonotary Warbler Name Origin
A post on the OKBIRDS that my be of interest to some.


From: John Kennington
Sent: Tuesday, December 26, 2017 11:52 AM
To: <OKBIRDS...>
Subject: [OKBIRDS] Prothonotary Warbler Name Origin

Note this is not a political post, but is about the name of an Oklahoma bird, for your perusal during a break between CBCs!

I was just reading a political article about the last election in Bucks County, PA. One line read:

"Democrats won the offices of county sheriff, prothonotary, recorder of deeds, and controller"

What caught my eye was the office of "prothonotary". I have never seen that use of the word other than in reference to the warbler.

So looking up the definition of the word "prothonotary" I get "a chief clerk in some courts of law"

Huh! That's a new word to me.

So I next looked up the origin of the name "Prothonotary Warbler" and found this on All About Birds:

a.. The Prothonotary Warbler got its name from the bright yellow robes worn by papal clerks, known as prothonotaries, in the Roman Catholic church.
And the next entry describes the role a Prothonotary Warbler played in politics, bringing this little research exercise full circle back to politics:

a.. The Prothonotary Warbler had its day in court during the Cold War. In 1948 Alger Hiss, an American government official, was accused of being a Soviet spy. Part of the trial hinged on whether Hiss knew Whittaker Chambers, a former member of the U.S. Communist Party. Chambers claimed that he talked to Hiss about watching birds and reported Hiss's excitement about seeing a Prothonotary Warbler on the Potomac River. This bird sighting linked the two people and eventually led to Hiss's sentence and to the rise of Richard Nixon to political power.
I wonder if there are any prothonotaries who are also birders???

John Kennington
Bixby, OK
Join us on Facebook!