Northern ParulaSetophaga americana
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
A small warbler of the upper canopy, the Northern Parula flutters at the edges of branches plucking insects. This bluish gray warbler with yellow highlights breeds in forests laden with Spanish moss or beard lichens, from Florida to the boreal forest, and it's sure to give you "warbler neck." It hops through branches bursting with a rising buzzy trill that pinches off at the end. Its white eye crescents, chestnut breast band, and yellow-green patch on the back set it apart from other warblers.More ID Info
Find This Bird
The key to finding a Northern Parula during the breeding season is to look for forests draped with long, wispy plants like Spanish moss and "old man's beard." Northern Parulas tend to stick to the canopy, which means you may end up with a bit of "warbler neck." Luckily during migration they also forage lower in the forest giving your neck a break. Parulas sing a lot during migration—so listen up for their distinctive buzzy trill.
- Parula Norteña (Spanish)
- Paruline à collier (French)
Northern Parulas do not visit feeders, but you can provide habitat for them in your yard by landscaping with native trees and shrubs. Creating a bird-friendly backyard for Northern Parulas even if they are not breeding in your area may help them out during migration. Head on over to Habitat Network to learn about which native species are good matches for your yard and more.
- Cool Facts
- Before this species received the name Northern Parula (a diminutive form of parus, meaning little titmouse), Mark Catesby, an English naturalist, called it a "finch creeper" and John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson called it a "blue yellow-backed warbler."
- Northern Parulas have an odd break in their breeding range. They breed from Florida north to the boreal forest of Canada, but skip parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and some states in the Northeast. The reason for their absence may have to do with habitat loss and increasing air pollution, which affects the growth of moss on trees that they depend on for nesting.
- Northern Parulas in the western part of their range sound different than those in the eastern part of their range. Western birds sing longer, less buzzy songs.
- Northern Parulas are usually considered an eastern warbler, but they occasionally breed along California's coast as well as in New Mexico and Arizona.
- Some bird names are hard to pronounce, and the Northern Parula has started its share of lively debates. Most people say "par-OOH-la" or "PAR-eh-la," while others say "PAR-you-la."
- The oldest recorded Northern Parula was a female at least 5 years, 11 months old, when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Maryland.