Tropical ParulaSetophaga pitiayumi

adult male
Greg Lasley/VIREO
adult female
Rick and Nora Bowers/VIREO
Andres M. Sada/VIREO
adult male
Mark Lockwood/VIREO
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. Northern Parula similar, but male has orange-brown breast band.


A buzzy, ascending trill, zzzzzzzzzz-up.


River-bottom woodlands and thickets.


Breeds in Rio Grande Valley of Texas. A few winter in Texas, but most do South in Mexico. Also in tropics.


This species has become quite scarce along the Rio Grande, the only part of the United States in which it nests, due to parasitism by cowbirds, the disappearance of Spanish moss, and the use of pesticides. During a period in the 1960s it apparently did not nest north of the U.S.-Mexico border at all, but now a few pairs breed in certain tracts of river-bottom woods.


3 or 4 white eggs, spotted with brown, in a cup built into a mass of hanging moss, usually along a stream.

Similar Species

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

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.

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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