While walking through Central Park on Friday I came across a Northern Parula foraging by the side of the path. It was very focused on a single leaf and when I looked closely at the leaf through my binoculars the reason became pretty clear. There was some kind of insect eggs or larvae sprinkled liberally all over the leaf. It was clear that whatever it was the parula was eating was coated in sticky silk but the interior must have been either delicious or nutritious because the bird stayed at the leaf and downed the items one after another for at least four or five minutes.

Northern Parula eating

Here the Northern Parula grabs one off of the leaf.

Northern Parula with food in its beak

Note the sticky silk stuck to the parula’s beak in this shot. After every three or four the bird would vigorously wipe its beak on the branch on which it was perched.

Northern Parula

It paused in its eating when I sneezed to give me the stink eye.

Northern Parula getting a snack

Then it was back to the leaf again. How many pictures have you ever seen that included Northern Parula tongue?

If anyone has any suggestions as to what, exactly, the parula was eating please share them in the comments. I’d love to know what it was that provided such a buffet for a bird.

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.