Family New World Warblers (Parulidae)

Least Concern

Tropical Parula (Setophaga pitiayumi)


French: Paruline à joues noires German: Elfenwaldsänger Spanish: Parula pitiayumí

Sylvia pitiayumi


, 1817,



Sometimes regarded as conspecific with S. americana, but the two differ in migratory behaviour and plumage characters. Until recently S. graysoni was treated as conspecific; some authors also consider that insularis may be a separate species, but it is much less distinctive than S. graysoni. Much named variation is clinal and the following races, all accepted in HBW, are now synonymized following a recent revision#R: speciosa (described from Boquete, Chiriquí, Panama) and nana (Cape Garachiné, E Panama) are lumped into race inornata; melanogenys (Yungas of Cochabamba, Bolivia) is included in pacifica; and elegans (Anzoátegui, Lara, N Venezuela) and roraimae (Arabupú, Bolívar, S Venezuela) are subsumed into nominate race. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. p. insularis (Lawrence, 1871) – Tres Marias Parula – Tres Marías Is, off Nayarit (W Mexico).
  • S. p. pulchra (Brewster, 1889) – W Mexico (Sierra Madre Occidental from S Sonora and Chihuahua S to Oaxaca); northernmost breeding birds may move S locally in winter.
  • S. p. nigrilora (Coues, 1878) – extreme S USA (lower Rio Grande, in extreme S Texas) and E Mexico (Sierra Madre Oriental from Coahuila S to E San Luis Potosí and N Veracruz).
  • S. p. inornata (S. F. Baird, 1864) – S Mexico (S Veracruz and Chiapas) S through N Guatemala to W Panama, as well as E Panama (Darién area) and adjacent NW Colombia.
  • S. p. cirrha (Wetmore, 1957) – Coiba I, off S Panama.
  • S. p. pacifica (Berlepsch & Taczanowski, 1884) – #RPacific slope of Andes from SW Colombia (Nariño) S to NW Peru (Cajamarca), and from C Peru (Junín) S to W Bolivia (La Paz and Cochabamba).
  • S. p. alarum (Chapman, 1924) – E Ecuador and N Peru (W of Amazon Basin).
  • S. p. pitiayumi (Vieillot, 1817) – Tropical Parula – Andes of Colombia, N Venezuela (including Margarita I), and Trinidad, S through S Venezuela (tepuis region), the Guianas and adjacent N Brazil, C & E Brazil S to E Bolivia, N & NE Argentina and Uruguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    11 cm; 5–8·1 g (insularis). Male nominate race has bright blue-grey head and upperparts, with black lores and ear-coverts, bronze-olive patch on mantle... read more


    Song varies slightly throughout range, but typically an accelerating buzzy trill at different... read more


    Occurs in various forest types, including deciduous forest, gallery forest, humid submontane and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds mainly on insects and other invertebrates; also takes small berries and protein corpuscles of Cecropia, Tapirira... read more


    Season protracted in tropics, at least Jan–Oct in Colombia and Feb–Oct across Ecuador (locally probably more restricted); more... read more


    Mainly sedentary; birds breeding in highlands of Mexico may winter at lower altitudes. Vagrant to... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally fairly common to common throughout its range. Has declined in recent decades in S USA (Texas), and is now rare there. In... read more

    Recommended citation

    Curson, J. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Tropical Parula (Setophaga pitiayumi). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).