Today I had a small flock of four Northern parulas pass through our yard. No doubt they’re part of the spring migration that is beginning to occur. There was a slight drizzle falling from the overcast sky when I spotted their movement among the branches and blossoms of a pear tree in our lot.
This tiny wood-warbler at one time was called a “blue yellow-backed warbler” by John James Audubon and Alexander Wilson, by others a “finch creeper”. They move among the branches much like that of a chickadee and a titmouse, bouncing quickly from limb to limb, sometimes hanging upside down to get a look at the inside of a pear blossom for an unawares bug. All of them appeared to be males.
In their southern nesting range they build their nests within Spanish moss that hangs from trees, while northern nesters use a beard moss known commonly as “old man’s beard”- a lichen of the Usnea species.