English and Scientific names:

Tropical Parula (Parula pitiayumi)

Number of individuals: 

1, adult-looking, sex unknown

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

private property, ~3.2km N Milton

Date(s) when observed:

27 Dec: early afternoon, ~1300hrs; 1 Jan: 0900-1130


Time(s) of day when observed:  

27 Dec: early afternoon, ~1300hrs; 1 Jan: 0900-1130


Reporting observer and address:

Erik I. Johnson

Lafayette, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):


none on 27 Dec; on 1 Jan, Dave Patton and Paul Conover

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):

none known

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Bird was observed off and on for nearly two hours during a clear, breezy day. First sighted high in water oak, but mostly seen high in Live Oak trees in varying lighting/shading

Optical equipment: 

10x42 Swarovski EL

Distance to bird(s): 

off and on for 2.5hrs

Duration of observation:




yard with many large live and water oaks with other medium to large deciduous trees with wooded property bordering

Behavior of bird: 

bird was seen foraging, gleaning presumably for insects, within dense foliage in the crown of mainly live oak trees, occasionally worked towards the tips of branches, but only briefly to return towards the center of trees. It was loosely associated with a mixed flock of birds containing Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Carolina Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.


dark facial mask and no white around the eyes was observed. Yellow rich from chin to belly, faiding into white near the legs; the white extended into the undertail coverts. Around the upper chest the yellow was richer with a tinge of orange, but not with distinct boundries...instead blending into the yellow in the throat and belly. The yellow in the throat appeared to extend into the malar area, nearly reaching the eye where it met the dark face with a clean, distinct transition. These features, to me, seperated the bird from typical Northern Parulas (P. americana). The bill was distinctly bi-colored: pinkish mandible and dark gray maxilla. White in the undertail with a broad dark tip. Two large, broad wing bars. Upon inspection of several photographs, very faint white marks above and below the eye are possible, although these were not seen by any of us in the field. Whether these are true to life or an artifact of lighting, blurry photos, or other illusions, I don't know.



none heard, although upon initial rediscovery (1 Jan) it approached to playback of a Tropical Parula song.


Similar species:

Northern Parula is the only species of confusion. The absence of broken white arcs above and below the eye and more yellow in the malar and into the belly made this bird distinct from Northern Parulas.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photographs (Erik I. Johnson). Dave Patton and Paul Conover also obtained photographs:


Previous experience with this species: 

Once observed in S Texas, I have seen many Northern Parulas during migration and on their breeding grounds in the last 10 years, especially during the last 4 years

Identification aids:

Sibley Guide and comments by Dave Patton and Paul Conover.

after observation: National Geographic Guide; TEXbird discussion of a bird found a few days earlier in Austin, TX and links therein (Martin Reid website and David Sibley's blog)

This description is written from: 

notes taken that afternoon after observation on 1 Jan (mostly notes of ID, situation, and some behaviorial), supplemented by memory (some behaviorial)

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


Yes, if Tropical Parula is in fact a distinct species from Northern Parula. There is also a question by many as to whether faint white marks are within the range of variation in "pure" Tropical Parulas. This bird probably looks as good as one can expect for a Tropical Parula.



Erik I. Johnson

Date and time: 

20 Jan, 2008 10:30pm