Wild Guide

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From Missouri Conservationist: May 2019

Northern Parula | Setophaga americana

  • Status Common summer resident
  • Size Length: 4½ inches
  • Distribution Statewide

Northern parulas enjoy forested areas, often along small streams and large rivers. Their key characteristics include bluegray feathers, a greenish-yellow patch on their back, and two white bars on their wings. Males have a two-colored dark band across their yellow chest. The parula has two songs: a buzzy ascending trill with a sharp note at the end: bzzzzzz-ZIP and an ascending buzzy trill with pauses.

Did You Know?

This bird species is often killed in collisions with communication towers and other structures during migration. Habitat loss and diminishing nesting territories are also affecting their numbers in some areas.

Life Cycle

Present in Missouri from April through early October, northern parula warblers build their cup-shaped nests high in the treetops. They can have two to seven eggs, which incubate in 12 to 14 days. Their young leave the nest 10 to 11 days after hatching. A northern parula warbler can live to be at least 5 years old. They winter in Central America and the West Indies.


Often hanging upside down like chickadees, northern parula warblers forage for insects and spiders among leaves, branches, and dead leaf clusters in trees.

Ecosystem Connections

It takes international cooperation to care for migratory birds like the northern parula warbler. Migratory birds play important roles in all the habitats and regions they pass through. We must protect all the ecosystems they require, whether it is the breeding territory, wintering grounds, or the stopover places in between.

This Issue's Staff

Editor - Angie Daly Morfeld

Associate Editor - Larry Archer

Staff Writer - Bonnie Chasteen
Staff Writer - Heather Feeler
Staff Writer - Kristie Hilgedick
Staff Writer - Joe Jerek

Creative Director - Stephanie Thurber

Art Director - Cliff White

Designer - Les Fortenberry
Designer - Marci Porter

Photographer - Noppadol Paothong
Photographer - David Stonner

Circulation - Laura Scheuler