Northern parula
Parula americana
ITIS Species Code:   178868         NatureServ Element Code:   ABPBX02010
NatureServe Global Rank: 
NatureServe State (NC) Rank: 
Federal Status: 
NC State Status: 
Southern Blue Ridge:  19 Southern Piedmont:  22 South Atl. Coastal Plain:  16
Land Unit

US Fish & Wildlife Service
US Forest Service
US National Park Service
US Department of Defense
NC State Parks
NC University System
NC Wildlife Res. Com.
NC Forest Service
NC Div. of Coastal Mgmt.
Local Governments
Non-Governmental Org.
Other Public Lands
Private Lands

GAP Status 1-2
All Protected Lands




% of Dist. on
Prot. Lands

12.7 %
45.1 %
4.6 %
15.5 %
4.1 %
1.5 %
8.1 %
0.9 %
1.3 %
4.6 %
4.6 %
< 0.1 %
< 0.1 %

48.4 %
% of Dist. on
All Lands

2.3 %
8.3 %
0.9 %
2.9 %
0.8 %
0.3 %
1.5 %
0.2 %
0.2 %
0.2 %
0.9 %
< 0.1 %
81.5 %

8.9 %
Found throughout the state (Pearson 1959, Stupka 1963, Fussell 1994 ). Most numerous near the coast and scarce in the Coastal Plain and Piedmont (Potter et al. 1980), where it is found in swamps and bottomlands. In the mountains it breeds in hemlock, hardwood, or mixed forests (Hamel 1992), but is absent from high elevation spruce-fir forests (Nicholson 1997).

Commonly nests in swamps (Fussell 1994), ravines (Nicholson 1997) and damp lowland woods (Pearson 1959), especially in trees that border streams (Alsop 1991). May also be found in dry habitats such as orchards and parks, so long as there is an abundance of Spanish moss or old manÆs beard present (Griscom and Sprunt 1957, Fussell 1994).

The nest can be placed 6-100 feet above the ground in coniferous trees and occasionally hardwoods, usually in a clump of old manÆs beard or Spanish moss (Griscom and Sprunt 1957). In areas with few lichens, the nest may be built in a clump of hemlock or spruce needles, with lichens added to it (Curson et al. 1994). The nest may also be built in clumps of deciduous leaves (Nicholson 1997) or into rubbish accumulated by flooding in branches over-hanging a stream (Ehrlich et al. 1988).


Open deciduous, coniferous, or mixed forest, woodland, floodplain and swamp forest. In the Coastal Plain and Piedmont, breeds mainly in swamps and bottomland forests; in the mountains, favors hemlock or mixed hemlock-hardwood forests, but also occurs in other woods (Hamel 1992). Prefers mature forest but also occurs in young deciduous woods (see Bushman and Therres 1988). Favors woods with a very dense understory of saplings and shrubs near slow or non-flowing water; canopy may range from poorly developed to mainly closed (see Bushman and Therres 1988). In migration and winter also humid lowland forest, second growth, scrub, and brushy areas (AOU 1983), woodland edge, mangroves.

BREEDING: Nests in trees in clumps of lichen or Spanish moss if available, otherwise in clusters of twigs or leaves or on horizontal branches.

Occupied Landcover Map Units:
Code NameDescription NC Natural Heritage Program Equivalent
75 Tidal Swamp Forest Swamp tupelo dominated forest with or without black tupelo and/or cypress trees. Restricted to the tidal zones in the coastal plain. May have inclusions of coastal red cedar woodlands. Tidal cypress - gum swamp
50 Coastal Plain Mixed Bottomland Forests Includes forests dominated by a variety of hardwood species, including sweetgum, cottonwood, red maple. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwood (in part), Coastal Plain Levee Forest
49 Coastal Plain Oak Bottomland Forest Bottomland forests dominated by deciduous oak alliances. Oaks represented can include swamp chestnut, cherrybark, willow, and/or overcup oak. Inclusions of loblolly pine temporarily flooded forests occur in patches. Hydrology is temporarily to seasonally flooded. Coastal Plain Bottomland Hardwoods (in part) blackwater subtype, brownwater subtype
158 Coastal Plain Nonriverine Wet Flat Forests Loblolly pine - Atlantic white-cedar - red maple - swamp tupelo saturated forests as well as forests dominated by loblolly, sweetgum, and red maple in non-riverine flats. Non-riverine Wet Hardwood Forest
15 Seepage and Streamhead Swamps Includes extensive peat flats in the coastal plain, dominated by swamp tupelo, maples, and Atlantic white cedar alliances. In the sandhills includes streamhead pond pine and bay forests alliances. Saturated hydrology. Bay Forest, Small Depression Pocosin, Streamhead Atlantic White Cedar Forest, Streamhead Pocosins
30 Cypress-Gum Floodplain Forests Swamps dominated by black or swamp tupelo with or without Taxodium. Seasonally to semi-permanently flooded hydrology. Cypress-Gum Swamps
78 Pond-Cypress - Gum Swamps, Savannas and Lakeshores Cypress dominated swamps and lakeshores. Can include bays dominated by pond cypress or shorelines of coastal plain lakes with a narrow band of cypress. Non-riverine Swamp Forest, Natural Lakeshores (in part)
385 Oak Bottomland Forest and Swamp Forest The swamp chestnut oak, cherrybark oak, shumard oak and sweetgum alliance is one representative. Other alliances are dominated by water, willow, and overcup oaks. Swamp forests can be dominated by sweetgum, red maple, and black gum being dominant. Loblolly can occur in combination with sweetgum and red maple, or with tulip poplar. Includes saturated and semi- to permanently flooded forests in the mountains. Piedmont/Mountain Bottomland Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Swamp Forest
230 Piedmont Mesic Forest American Beech - Red Oak - White Oak Forests. Mesic Mixed Hardwood
384 Piedmont/Mountain Mixed Bottomland Hardwood Forests Includes temporarily to seasonally forests dominated by hardwood species. Hardwoods include sweetgum, red maple, sycamore which co-occur in a mosaic of bottomland and levee positions. Includes alluvial hardwood forests in the mountains. Hemlock and white pine may occur as inclusions, but are generally mapped separately. Piedmont/Mountain Alluvial Forest, Piedmont/Mountain Levee Forest
383 Piedmont Mixed Successional Forest Generally loblolly mixed with successional hardwoods. Sweetgum, tulip poplar and red maple are common co-dominants in these successional forests. No equivalent
517 Hemlock Floodplain Forest Alluvial forest with hemlock and/or white pine in mountains and western piedmont. Hydrology is generally temporarily to seasonally flooded. Canada Hemlock Forest
522 Northern Hardwoods High Elevation forests including yellow birch, American beech, and yellow buckeye. Includes forests with Hemlock and Yellow Birch. Northern Hardwoods Forest, Boulderfield Forest
525 Appalachian Oak Forest A variety of oak forest types including Black, White, Scarlet Oaks in dry to mesic situations. Includes forests historically co-dominated by American Chestnut. High Elevation Red Oak Forest, Montane White Oak Forest
526 Appalachian Cove Forest Mixed Mesophytic forests of the mountains. Includes tuliptree, basswood, yellow buckeye and surgar maple. This class is mapped to include cove forests dominated or co-dominated by hemlock. Rich Cove Forest, Acidic Cove Forest
527 Appalachian Hemlock Upland hemlock forests of the moutains region. Vary from side slopes to steep slope positions. Canada Hemlock Forest
533 Appalachian Swamp Forest Evergreen and deciduous forests with saturated hydrologies. This class may contain a variety of trees species, including hemlock - red maple, pitch pine, and white pine forests. Swamp Forest-Bog Complex, Southern Appalachian Bog, Southern Appalachian Fen
View Entire Landcover Legend
Additional Spatial Constraints:
Exclude all area outside of known range.
Exclude the outerbanks.
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Bushman, E.S., and G.D. Therres. 1988. Habitat management guidelines for forest interior breeding birds of coastal Maryland. Maryland Department of Natural Resources, Wildlife Tech. Publ. 88-1. 50 pp.

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Alsop FJ III. 1991. Birds of the Smokies. Gatlinburg: Great Smoky Mountains Natural History Association.

10 March 2005
This data was compiled and/or developed by the North Carolina GAP Analysis Project.

For more information please contact them at:
NC-GAP Analysis Project
Dept. of Zoology, NCSU
Campus Box 7617
Raleigh, NC 27695-7617
(919) 513-2853