Birds – Parula Warbler

(Compsothlypis americana)


Length—4.5 to 4.75 inches. About an inch and a half shorter than the English sparrow.

Male and Female—Slate-colored above, with a greenish-yellow or bronze patch in the middle of the back. Chin, throat, and breast yellow. A black, bluish, or rufous band across the breast, usually lacking in female. Underneath white, some-times marked with rufous on sides, but these markings are variable. Wings have two white patches; outer tail feathers have white patch near the end.

Range—Eastern North America. Winters from Florida southward. Migrations—April. October. Summer resident.

Through an open window of an apartment in the very heart of New York City, a parula warbler flew this spring of 1897, surely the daintiest, most exquisitely beautiful bird visitor that ever voluntarily lodged between two brick walls.

A number of such airy, tiny beauties flitting about among the blossoms of the shrubbery on a bright May morning and swaying on the slenderest branches with their inimitable grace, is a sight that the memory should retain into old age. They seem the very embodiment of life, joy, beauty, grace; of everything lovely that birds by any possibility could be. Apparently they are wafted about the garden ; they fly with no more effort than a dainty lifting of the wings, as if to catch the breeze, that seems to lift them as it might a bunch of thistledown. They go through a great variety of charming posturings as they hunt for their food upon the blossoms and tender fresh twigs, now creeping like a nuthatch along the bark and peering into the crevices, now grace-fully swaying and balancing like a goldfinch upon a slender, pendent stem. One little sprite pauses in its hunt for the insects to raise its pretty head and trill a short and wiry song.

But the parula warbler does not remain long about the gar-dens and orchards, though it will not forsake us altogether for the Canadian forests, where most of its relatives pass the summer. It retreats only to the woods near the water, if may be, or to just as close a counterpart of a swampy southern woods, where the Spanish or Usnea ” moss ” drapes itself over the cypresses, as it can find here at the north. Its rarely beautiful nest, that hangs suspended from a slender branch very much like the Baltimore oriole’s, is so woven and festooned with this moss that its concealment is perfect.