Northern ParulaSetophaga americana

adult male
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female
Garth McElroy/VIREO
adult male
Garth McElroy/VIREO
immature female (1st winter)
Gerard Bailey/VIREO
immature (1st winter)
John Heidecker/VIREO
adult male
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult female
James M. Wedge/VIREO
Northern Parula
Northern Parula



4 1/2" (11 cm). A small warbler; blue above with yellow-green "saddle" on its back, yellow throat and breast, and white belly; 2 white wing bars. Male has orange-brown chest band.


1 or more rising buzzy notes dropping abruptly at the end, bzzzzz-zip or bz-bz-bz-zip.


song variant
dawn song with chips
typical songs #1
dawn song #X
alarm chips
dawn song
typical songs #2


Breeds in wet, chiefly coniferous woods, in swamps, and along lakes and ponds; more widespread during migration.


Breeds from southeastern Canada to Gulf Coast. Winters from southern Florida southward into tropics.


This species is almost entirely dependent upon either Spanish moss or "beard moss" for nest sites. Although they breed mostly in coniferous forests in the North, during migration these birds also frequent deciduous trees and shrubs. In spring they are commonly seen in trees along roadsides, and in parks, yards, orchards, and gardens as well as woods.


4 or 5 brown-spotted white eggs in a woven basket-shaped nest of grass, bark, and vegetable fibers-neatly hidden in Spanish moss in the South, in "beard moss" or Usnea lichen in the North.

Similar Species

adult male, breeding

Cerulean Warbler

4 1/2" (11 cm). Male has sky-blue head and back; black band across white breast. Female is dull blue-gray above and whitish below, and lacks breast band. Immature similar to female.

adult male, Central

Yellow-throated Warbler

5" (13 cm). Gray, unstreaked upperparts, bright yellow throat, white belly, black-and-white facial pattern, heavy black streaks on sides. Sexes alike.

adult male

Grace's Warbler

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm).

adult male

Kirtland's Warbler

6" (15 cm). A large warbler, gray above with black streaks; yellow below with black streaks on sides; black cheeks with conspicuous white eye ring. Female similar but duller. Bobs its tail.

adult male

Tropical Parula

4-5" (10-13 cm). A small, bluish-backed warbler with bright yellow underparts, 2 white wing bars, and patch of olive green in middle of back. Male has orange wash on breast.

adult male (breeding)

Blue-winged Warbler

4 1/2" (11 cm). Sexes similar, mostly bright yellow with blue-gray wings, 2 white wing bars, and black line through eye. Greenish back and tail.


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