South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Northern Parula

Parula americana

Length: 4.5 inches Wingspan: 6.75 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Blueish-gray upperparts, light underparts with yellow on throat and upper chest, white wing-bars, broken white eye-ring.

Northern Parula - Parula americanaThe Northern Parula is another bird species which is often easier to hear than to see, as they prefer to nest in areas with dense hanging Spanish Moss or other lichens. The task is made more difficult because of their tendency to forage in dense treetop foliage.  Normally a bird of the eastern part of the United States, strays often make it all the way to the West Coast during migration.

Habitat: Prefers to nest in humid coniferous and deciduous forests, especially those that have an abundance of Spanish Moss or other tree lichens or are in and around swamps, rivers, and lakes.  They can be found in nearly any kind of forest and woodland habitat during migration and in winter.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects and spiders.  Will also occasionally feed on berries.

Behavior: Moves deliberately through the foliage, gleaning insects from leaves and twigs, occasionally flying out to capture an insect flying by or an insect spotted on the ground.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota.

Song: A thin buzz that rises and the sharply drops at the end. Click here to listen to the Northern Parula's song.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the Eastern United States up through southeastern Canada.  Winters in the tropics.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Northern Parula sightings

Similar Species: Yellow-rumped Warbler, Canada Warbler, Magnolia Warbler

Conservation Status: Seems to be stable throughout its normal range.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Northern Parula

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Northern Parula"

3) Northern Parula

Photo Information: Photo taken on May 24th, 2012 near Acadia National park in Maine - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Northern Parula - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant in the eastern part of the state, casual in the west.