Tropical parula

Last updated

Tropical parula
Parula pitiayumi -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg
In Brazil
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae
Genus: Setophaga
S. pitiayumi
Binomial name
Setophaga pitiayumi
(Vieillot, 1817)
Parula pitiayumi map.svg
Range of S. pitiayumi
  Breeding range
  Year-round range

Setophaga americana pitiayumi
Parula pitiayumi

The tropical parula (Setophaga pitiayumi) is a small New World warbler. It breeds from southernmost Texas and northwest Mexico (Sonora) south through Central America to northern Argentina, including Trinidad and Tobago. This widespread and common species is not considered threatened by the IUCN. [1]


This passerine is not migratory, but northern birds may make local movements. For example, although it does not breed in much of Pacific Central America, it is a regular vagrant to countries like El Salvador. [2]


Illustration by Keulemans, 1885 ParulaKeulemans.jpg
Illustration by Keulemans, 1885

It is 4.3 in (11 cm) long and has mainly blue-grey upperparts, with a greenish back patch and two white wingbars. The underparts are yellow, becoming orange on the breast. The male has a black patch from the bill to behind the eye.

Females are slightly duller than the males and lacks black on the head. The immature tropical parula is dull-plumaged, lacks the wing bars, and has a grey band on the breast.

The song is a high buzzy trill, and the call is a sharp tsit.

The tropical parula has about 14 subspecies, with a wide range of plumage tones. S. p. graysoni, is endemic to Socorro in the Revillagigedo Islands. [3] Some subspecies (especially insular ones) are occasionally considered separate species.

Setophaga pitiayumi has occasionally been lumped with the closely related northern parula (S. americana) as a single species. Hybrids are routinely found in the Rio Grande Valley of southern Texas, though this may be a recent phenomenon. Most tropical parulas can be distinguished from the northern parula by their lack of white eye crescents, but this may be ambiguous in hybrids. One should also look for the distribution and extent of non-yellow coloration on the breast, and the extent of yellow below the cheek and on the belly.

In addition, a partially leucistic tropical parula female was seen in 2005, at Reserva Buenaventura in El Oro Province, Ecuador. [4] With several small white areas on the forehead and around the eyes, this bird appeared much like a hybrid, but such birds would only occur as far south as Panama (if they would migrate like the northern parula).


Adult male in Uruguay Parula pitiayumi PITIAYUMI.jpg
Adult male in Uruguay

The tropical parula is a species mainly of hill and premontane forests, and does not occur in the Amazon basin. It seems to prefer moderately disturbed and secondary forest and seems to cope well with habitat fragmentation. On the eastern slope of the Andes for example it is regularly found at about 3,300–4,300 ft (1,000–1,300 m). There its habitat is a patchy mix containing primary forest (e.g. high Iriartea deltoidea palm woods), wet premontane secondary forest dominated e.g. by Elaeagia (Rubiaceae) and with abundant epiphytes and hemiepiphytes such as Clusiaceae, former clearings overgrown with shrubs, and fresh forest edges. [5]

S. p. graysoni mostly keeps to low woody vegetation, typically Croton masonii shrubs, a few feet (some 1–1.5 meters) above ground; they are more terrestrial than other subspecies of the tropical parula and often can be seen hopping on the ground – though probably less so where feral cats are abundant. [3]

These birds feed on insects, spiders and occasionally berries. They may be seen to attend mixed-species feeding flocks, in some locations (e.g. in the Serra de Paranapiacaba) commonly, but often just coincidentally. [6] [7]

The tropical parula nests in clumps of epiphytes (especially Spanish moss, Tillandsia usneoides) in a tree, laying usually two eggs in a scantily lined domed nest. Incubation is 12–14 days, mainly by the female. On Socorro Island, the breeding season is probably in the summer months, and by November, the young appear to have fledged. [3]

Related Research Articles

New World warbler Family of birds

The New World warblers or wood-warblers are a group of small, often colorful, passerine birds that make up the family Parulidae and are restricted to the New World. They are not closely related to Old World warblers or Australian warblers. Most are arboreal, but some, like the ovenbird and the two waterthrushes, are primarily terrestrial. Most members of this family are insectivores.

Cinnamon teal Species of bird

The cinnamon teal is a species of duck found in western North and South America. It is a small dabbling duck, with bright reddish plumage on the male and duller brown plumage on the female. It lives in marshes and ponds, and feeds mostly on plants.

Eastern meadowlark Species of bird

The eastern meadowlark is a medium-sized blackbird, very similar in appearance to sister species western meadowlark. It occurs from eastern North America to northern South America, where it is also most widespread in the east.

Northern parula Species of bird

The northern parula is a small New World warbler. It breeds in eastern North America from southern Canada to Florida.

Socorro Island Small volcanic island off the west coast of Mexico

Socorro Island is a small volcanic island in the Revillagigedo Islands, a Mexican possession lying 600 kilometres (370 mi) off the country's western coast. The size is 16.5 by 11.5 km, with an area of 132 km2 (51 sq mi). It is the largest of the four islands of the Revillagigedo Archipelago. The last eruption was in 1993.

Andrew J. Grayson American ornithologist and painter

Andrew Jackson Grayson (1819–1869) was an American ornithologist and artist.

Socorro mockingbird Species of bird

The Socorro mockingbird is an endangered mockingbird endemic to Socorro Island in Mexico's Revillagigedo Islands. The specific epithet commemorates the American ornithologist Andrew Jackson Grayson.

Tropical mockingbird Species of bird

The tropical mockingbird is a resident breeding bird from southern Mexico to northern and eastern South America and in the Lesser Antilles and other Caribbean islands.

Streaked flycatcher Species of bird

The streaked flycatcher is a passerine bird in the tyrant flycatcher family.

Olivaceous woodcreeper Species of bird

The olivaceous woodcreeper is a passerine bird of the tropical Americas. It belongs to the true woodcreepers of the ovenbird family (Furnariidae).

<i>Parula</i> Genus of birds

Parula was formerly a small genus of New World warblers which breed in North and South America.

<i>Setophaga</i> Genus of birds

Setophaga is a genus of birds of the New World warbler family Parulidae. It contains at least 33 species. The males in breeding plumage are often highly colorful. The Setophaga warblers are an example of adaptive radiation with the various species using different feeding techniques and often feeding in different parts of the same tree.

Red-lored amazon Species of bird

The red-lored amazon or red-lored parrot is a species of amazon parrot, native to tropical regions of the Americas, from eastern Mexico south to Ecuador where it occurs in humid evergreen to semi-deciduous forests up to 1,100 m altitude. It is absent from the Pacific side of Central America north of Costa Rica. Not originally known from El Salvador, a pair - perhaps escaped from captivity - nested successfully in 1995 and 1996 in the outskirts of San Salvador and the species might expand its range permanently into that country in the future. This species has also established feral populations in several California cities.

Hoffmanns woodpecker Species of bird

Hoffmann's woodpecker is a resident breeding bird from southern Honduras south to Costa Rica. It is a common species on the Pacific slopes, locally as high as 2,150 m (7,050 ft). It is expanding on the Caribbean slope, aided by deforestation. This is further facilitated by its tendency to wander about outside the breeding season.

Wedge-billed woodcreeper Species of bird

The wedge-billed woodcreeper, is a passerine bird which breeds in the tropical New World from southern Mexico to northern Bolivia, central Brazil and the Guianas; it is absent from the Pacific coastal areas except between Costa Rica and Ecuador. It is the only member of the genus Glyphorynchus.

Variable seedeater Species of bird

The variable seedeater is a passerine bird which breeds from southern Mexico through Central America to the Chocó of northwestern South America. The taxonomy is confusing, and it was formerly considered a subspecies of Sporophila americana. Even within the variable seedeater as presently defined, there are great variations in plumage.

Red warbler Passerine bird and New World warbler endemic to Mexico

The red warbler is a small passerine bird of the New World warbler family Parulidae endemic to the highlands of Mexico, north of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It is closely related to, and forms a superspecies with, the pink-headed warbler of southern Mexico and Guatemala. There are three subspecies, found in disjunct populations, which differ primarily in the color of their ear patch and in the brightness and tone of their body plumage. The adult is bright red, with a white or gray ear patch, depending on the subspecies; young birds are pinkish-brown, with a whitish ear patch and two pale wingbars.

Maroon-bellied parakeet Species of bird

The maroon-bellied parakeet is a small parrot found from southeastern Brazil to north-eastern Argentina, including eastern Paraguay and Uruguay. It is also known as the reddish-bellied parakeet, and in aviculture it is usually referred to as the maroon-bellied conure, reddish-bellied conure or brown-eared conure.

Barred forest falcon Species of bird

The barred forest falcon is a species of bird of prey in the family Falconidae which includes the falcons, caracaras, and their relatives. It occurs throughout most of tropical and subtropical Latin America, except the arid Pacific coast in South America, northern and western Mexico, and the Antilles.

Tawny-throated leaftosser Species of bird

The tawny-throated leaftosser is a tropical American bird species in the ovenbird family Furnariidae. It is also known as the tawny-throated leafscraper, Mexican leaftosser or Mexican leafscraper. This bird might be a cryptic species complex.


  1. 1 2 BirdLife International (2012). Parula pitiayumi. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2.
  2. Herrera, Néstor; Rivera, Roberto; Ibarra Portillo, Ricardo & Rodríguez, Wilfredo (2006). "Nuevos registros para la avifauna de El Salvador" [New records for the avifauna of El Salvador](PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología (in Spanish and English). 16 (2): 1–19.
  3. 1 2 3 Brattstrom, Bayard H. & Howell, Thomas R. (1956). "The Birds of the Revilla Gigedo Islands, Mexico" (PDF). Condor . 58 (2): 107–120. doi:10.2307/1364977. JSTOR   1364977.
  4. Hosner, Peter A. & Lebbin, Daniel J. (2006). "Observations of plumage pigment aberrations of birds in Ecuador, including Ramphastidae" (PDF). Boletín de la Sociedad Antioqueña de Ornitología. 16 (1): 30–42.
  5. Salaman, Paul G.W.; Stiles, F. Gary; Bohórquez, Clara Isabel; Álvarez-R., Mauricio; Umaña, Ana María; Donegan, Thomas M. & Cuervo, Andrés M. (2002). "New and noteworthy bird records from the east slope of the Andes of Colombia" (PDF). Caldasia. 24 (1): 157–189. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-11-21.
  6. Machado, C.G. (1999). "A composição dos bandos mistos de aves na Mata Atlântica da Serra de Paranapiacaba, no sudeste brasileiro [Mixed flocks of birds in Atlantic Rain Forest in Serra de Paranapiacaba, southeastern Brazil]". Revista Brasileira de Biologia (in Portuguese and English). 59 (1): 75–85. doi: 10.1590/S0034-71081999000100010 .
  7. Olson, Storrs L. & Alvarenga, Herculano M. F. (2006). "An extraordinary feeding assemblage of birds at a termite swarm in the Serra da Mantiqueira, São Paulo, Brazil" (PDF). Revista Brasileira de Ornitologia. 14 (3): 297–299. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-12-17.

Further reading