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.

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.


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.


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


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


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.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.

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

Download Our Bird Guide App


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.

See a fully interactive migration map for over 450 bird species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

Learn more

Songs and Calls

A buzzy, ascending trill, zzzzzzzzzz-up.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Tropical Parula

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate Threats Near You

Climate threats facing the Tropical Parula

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.