Last fall I posted a photo and blog entry on the systematics of Northern Parulas. This spring I banded a couple of bright males. Previously I have never noticed the small, bright-azure streak forward of their shoulders--you can see this color best in the photo above. Parulas are birds of the eastern United States and southeast Canada. They are seldom seen west of Minnesota; in 30 years of banding in South Dakota, I never caught one. In Minnesota, Parulas are locally common breeders in our northeastern counties. Elsewhere they are uncommon migrants (Eckert 2002). Listen for their ascending songs with a pip at the end. If you listen to the call, you will also notice that Parulas also sing other buzzy notes.
The word "Parula" comes from the Latin for little titmouse. The word is variously pronounced as PAR-a-la or PAR-ya-la. I have always said, par-U-la. The situation could be worse. Audubon and other early ornithologists called the Northern Parula the Blue Yellow Back Warbler.