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

In 1758, Linnaeus classified the Northern Parula as a tit, Parus americanus, and as taxonomy developed the genus name was modified first to Parulus and then the current form. The family name, Parulidae, of course also derives form this source.

The four species are:

The first two of these are sometimes placed in the genus Vermivora. The two named as parulas are very closely related and form a superspecies.

These birds are mainly resident breeders except for the Northern Parula which winters south of its breeding ranges in Central America and the West Indiesmarker.

Parula warblers are tiny, 11-12 cm long. They have yellow, orange or red throats, with the colour extending further down the underparts in some species. The upperparts and wings are various shades of grey or blue-grey, and the mantle is greener or blacker than the rest of the back.

The breeding habitat is woodlands with clearings. These warblers nest low in a tree or on the ground, laying 3-7 eggs in a cup nest.

Parula warblers feed on insects and spiders, often caught by flycatching, and they have distinctive buzzing songs and loud chip calls.

In Art

John James Audubon illustrates a pair of Northern Perulas in Birds of America (published, London 1827-38), Plate 15 entitled "Blue Yellow-backed Warbler - Sylvia americana". The birds are shown perched on a Louisiana Flag (Iris cuprea) painted by Joseph Mason to which Audubon added the two birds in 1821. The image was engraved and colored by the Robert Havell, London workshops.. The original watercolor by Audubon was purchased by the New York History Society where it remains to this day (January 2009).


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