McGILL BIRD OBSERVATORY

PHOTO LIBRARY

Northern Parula / Paruline à collier (Parula americana)

 NOTE: This species account has been moved to Piranga to allow for improved comparison among examples.  
The updated profile is located at: http://www.natureinstruct.org/piranga/view.php/Canada/41062654293EB4E1

QUICK TIPS:
1) Look at the primary coverts - on HY/SY birds they are paler than greater coverts with little or no edging, and on AHY/ASY birds they are uniform with the greater coverts and have distinct blue edging

2) Look at the tail - on HY/SY birds the rectrices are fairly narrow and pointed, and on AHY/ASY birds they are relatively broad and rounded at the tip

3) Look at the overall plumage - within each age class males tend to be more bluish with larger white patches on the rectrices, while females are more greenish and have smaller white patches on the rectrices

Species account updated March 2009

Ageing and sexing guidelines:

January - July:

ASY - M
Bluish edging to primary coverts; strong bluish wash to the head and back; broad and rounded rectrices with relatively extensive white patches; chestnut breast band
     
ASY - F
Bluish edging to primary coverts; greenish-blue wash to the head and back; broad and rounded rectrices with moderate white patches; lacking chestnut breast band

SY - M
Dull and relatively faded primary coverts; bluish to greenish-blue wash to the head and back; rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed with small to moderate white patches
SY - F
Dull and relatively faded primary coverts; greenish wash to the head and back; rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed with generally small white patches
     

-

July - December:

AHY - M
Bluish edging to primary coverts; strong bluish wash to the head and back; broad and rounded rectrices with relatively extensive white patches
AHY - F
Bluish edging to primary coverts; greenish-blue wash to the head and back; broad and rounded rectrices with moderate white patches
HY - M
Dull and relatively faded primary coverts; bluish to greenish-blue wash to the head and back; rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed with small to moderate white patches
HY - F
Dull and relatively faded primary coverts; greenish wash to the head and back; rectrices somewhat narrow and pointed with generally small white patches
 

Ageing and sexing details:

JAN - JUL:  after-second-year male

 


  
 



 



 

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JAN - JUL:  after-second-year female

After-second-year females are somewhat paler than males of the same age and lacking a chestnut breast band.  However, they may be similar in overall appearance to hatch-year males; the wing and tail should be examined to confirm identification.  The blue edging on the primary coverts may be visible on a perched bird, as in the second photo below, and this can be used to identify it as an after-second-year individual, as second-year birds lack this edging and have noticeably more worn and brownish primary coverts.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008
 


Note the overall bluish tone to the wing, and especially the bluish edging to the broad and rounded primary coverts.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008


The rectrices are broad and fairly rounded, with a moderate amount of white on the outer two feathers, and typically most to all rectrices are in good condition.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Photo by Barbara Frei, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JAN - JUL:  second-year male

Second-year males are somewhat paler and more greenish than older males, but similar in overall appearance to after-hatch-year females; the wing and tail should be examined to confirm identification.  Often the brownish and somewhat worn primary coverts are visible on a perched bird, and are a strong indicator that it is second-year.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007


Note the relatively dull and worn primary coverts, uniform in colour and condition with the primaries and secondaries, but contrasting with the fresher and bluer greater coverts.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007
 


The rectrices are typically somewhat narrow, tapered, and worn; the example below appears particularly tattered as a result of being a bit wet.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), May 2007

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JAN - JUL:  second-year female

 



 


JUL - DEC:  after-hatch-year male

After-hatch-year males are the most boldly coloured, with upperparts mostly blue, contrasting with the distinct greenish back triangle sometimes tinged with orange, and bold yellow underparts, also sometimes tinged with orange or chestnut but often not.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


The wing is particularly useful for ageing and sexing this species.  The wing shown below is typical for an after-hatch-year male, with distinct blue edging on primary coverts, and bluish edging also on the primaries and secondaries.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


After-hatch-year males have the greatest amount of white on the tail, often extending to r4; all other ages and sexes have white limited to the two outermost rectrices.  The rectrices also tend to be quite broad and rounded.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JUL - DEC:  after-hatch-year female

After-hatch-year females are somewhat paler than males of the same age, but similar in overall appearance to hatch-year males; the wing and tail should be examined to confirm identification.  Note though that the blue edging on the primary coverts, indicative of an after-hatch-year Northern Parula, can often be seen while the bird is perched, as in the photo below.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


The primary coverts of an after-hatch-year female have blue edging, as on males, but note that the feathers are not as dark, and that the edging on the secondaries is more greenish than blue.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


The rectrices are broad and rounded, with white patches limited to the outer two rectrices.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

 

JUL - DEC:  hatch-year male

Hatch-year males are somewhat paler and more greenish than older males, but similar in overall appearance to after-hatch-year females; the wing and tail should be examined to confirm identification.  Note though that the lack of blue edging on the primary coverts, indicative of a hatch-year Northern Parula, can sometimes be seen on a perched bird


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


The edging on the primary coverts is less distinct than on after-hatch-year birds, but more noticeably, the primary coverts are significantly paler than the blackish greater coverts, and the edging on the primaries and secondaries is greenish.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


Tail shape is not the most reliable feature for Northern Parulas, but hatch-year birds do tend to have slightly narrower rectrices that taper to more of a point.  White patches are limited to the outer two rectrices.


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

JUL - DEC:  hatch-year female

Hatch-year females are the palest form, usually more greenish above than bluish.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005
 


The edging on the primary coverts is less distinct than on after-hatch-year birds, but more noticeably, the primary coverts are significantly paler than the blackish greater coverts, and the edging on the primaries and secondaries is usually more greenish than blue.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


 
Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2008


Tail shape is not the most reliable feature for Northern Parulas, but hatch-year birds do tend to have slightly narrower rectrices that taper to more of a point, and on some individuals such as the one below where that shape is pronounced, it can be a strong indicator of age.  White patches are limited to the outer two rectrices, and the spot on r5 is often particularly small.


Photo by Marie-Anne Hudson, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), August 2007


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2005


Photo by Marcel Gahbauer, McGill Bird Observatory (QC), September 2008

RETURN TO AGE/SEX OVERVIEW

  

2002- The Migration Research Foundation Inc.