Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Tropical Parula

Setophaga pitiayumi

Conservation status Has disappeared from areas along Rio Grande where it formerly nested. Presence north of there, in Kingsville region, is a recent discovery. Widespread and common in tropics.
Family Wood Warblers
Habitat Oaks, riverside woods. In southern Texas, breeds mainly in groves of low live oaks with much Spanish moss (for nest sites), surrounded by mesquites. Also sometimes in dense native woods near Rio Grande where much Spanish moss hangs in trees. In the tropics, nests in many kinds of woodlands, from dry lowland thorn forest to humid forest in the mountains.
Very similar to our Northern Parula, this bird is widespread in the tropics, from northern Mexico to central Argentina. In our area, it is mainly a summer resident of southern Texas, especially in low live-oak groves south of Kingsville. Most of these birds seem to disappear in winter, but a few can be found at that season associating with roving flocks of titmice and other birds in woods along the Rio Grande.
Photo Gallery
Feeding Behavior

Forages actively from mid-level to the treetops, frequently along streams. Searches among leaves, and hovers momentarily to take insects from foliage; sometimes flies out to catch flying insects in mid-air.


Eggs

Usually 3-4 in south Texas, 2 in the tropics. Creamy white with chestnut speckles around larger end. The incubation period and the roles of the parents are not well known. Young: Probably both parents feed the nestlings. Age at which the young leave the nest is not well known.


Young

Probably both parents feed the nestlings. Age at which the young leave the nest is not well known.

Diet

Largely insects. Diet not known in detail; undoubtedly feeds mostly on insects. Known to feed on wasps, ants, flies, and others.


Nesting

Details are not well known. In the tropics, may remain paired on territory throughout the year. In Texas, most apparently depart in winter. After returning in spring, males sing persistently to defend territory. Nest: Placed 8-40' above ground in hanging Spanish moss; sometimes in hollow in orchids or dangling cactus. In Spanish moss, little material may be added. In other sites, nest is cup-shaped and constructed of moss, palmetto bark, grass, roots, and animal hair; lined with plant down and feathers. Nest probably built by female.

Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Migration

Returns to nesting areas in south-central Texas early, often in March. A few stay through winter along lower Rio Grande. Strays have reached Louisiana and Arizona.

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Migration

Returns to nesting areas in south-central Texas early, often in March. A few stay through winter along lower Rio Grande. Strays have reached Louisiana and Arizona.

Songs and Calls
A buzzy, ascending trill, zzzzzzzzzz-up.