Ada — The Northern Parula is a hard-to-spot little warbler and is this week's featured creature. Now, whether or not the Northern Parula nests in our area is unknown to me.
Some maps indicate we are in its breeding range, but since it most often nests in hanging Spanish moss, I doubt it does nest in our area. I am not completely certain, so I won't rule it out. One thing is certain: they do migrate through the area during spring and fall. I have seen Northern Parulas around here on two occasions, both during migration.
As stated above, parulas are warblers, and warblers are small. Northern Parulas grow to about 4.5 inches in total length. They can be seen hopping about in the canopies of large trees gleaning for spiders and other insects.
In the photo above, which I took in south Texas in spring, you can see this Northern Parula used its tongue to snatch an unlucky spider from its web. Yummy!
Like many birds, they fly south for winter — Cuba and Central America. Northern Parulas are very colorful but still hard to spot.
Here is a valuable tip for spotting warblers: learn warbler sounds. With so many varieties, it's hard to learn each one's song, but once you develop an ear for warblers, you will always know by the sound if the bird is a warbler or not.
The majority of warblers I see, I hear them first. Follow the warbling song to a tree, look up, and watch for a tiny object moving about. I promise there is a lot of searching before the photo is taken. It's not easy, but it's worth the effort.