Sunday, March 3, 2013



Prothonotary Warbler | Credit: Bill Stripling

Prothonotary Warblers sing "sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet!" But logging and agriculture in the U.S. and destruction of mangroves in Central and South America threaten this beautiful bird.

Back in the days of the cold war Whitaker Chambers, the Editor of Time Magazine who was formerly active in the Communist Party USA, told the FBI that he had served as a contact with a traitor in the State Department, Alger Hiss.  The FBI and Congress questioned Hiss for hours on end, but they could not get him to say anything that linked him with Chambers.  Then one of the agents of the FBI recalled that Chambers had said that in idle conversation with Alger Hiss, Hiss had said that one of the proudest moments in his life as an avid bird watcher was when he spotted and recorded a Prothonotary Warbler, a relatively rare bird.

The next time Hiss was questioned under oath the FBI interrogator asked him what his hobbies were and Hiss said that he was an avid bird watcher.  The interrogator shared with Hiss some his own successes in bird watching and Hiss not to be outdone boasted of the time that he spotted a Prothonotary Warbler.

With this confirmation of the testimony of Whitaker Chambers, the FBI was eventually able to obtain sufficient evidence to convict Hiss and send him to prison for espionage for the Soviet Union.

For this reason and for others, we should do all we can to protect this beautiful little bird.

- Leo Rugiens

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I'm an avid bird watcher, but my backyard birds are mostly the common variety -- no less wonderful for that.