Louisiana Waterthrush – Profile | Facts | Song | Traits | Range

Louisiana waterthrush

The Louisiana waterthrush, scientific name Parkesia motacilla is a New World warbler, that breeds in eastern North America and winters within the West Indies and Central America.

Louisiana waterthrush profile

Plain brown above, it’s white under, with black streaks and with buff flanks and undertail, distinguishing it from the carefully associated northern waterthrush. The habitats it prefers are streams and their environment, and different moist areas.

A thrush-like warbler that walks on the ground on the water’s edge, bobbing the rear a part of its body up and down. It is similar to the Northern Waterthrush, however has a more restricted range in each summer season and winter.

The two species overlap in summer season in elements of the northeast however are likely to divide up by habitat there, the Louisiana dwelling alongside flowing streams, the Northern favoring nonetheless waters and stagnant bogs.

Geographic Range

During the breeding season, Louisiana waterthrushes (Seiurus motacilla) are discovered from Minnesota, southern Ontario, and central New England, south to Texas, Louisiana, and Georgia.

In southern Ontario, they’re discovered primarily inside the Norfolk Sand Plain area, which borders the north shore of Lake Erie.

Their breeding range has expanded northward, more than likely in response to the reforestation of areas extensively lumbered within the late 19th and early 20th century.

In Minnesota, Louisiana waterthrushes are discovered principally within the eastern part of the state, significantly in Chisago and Washington counties alongside the St. Croix River, in addition to in Winona and Houston counties.

They are additionally present in southern Pine County and west to the Mankato space of the Minnesota River valley.

During wintering months, Louisiana waterthrushes are present in northern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America.

They additionally winter within the West Indies and the Caribbean. Occasionally, these birds might winter inside the southeastern United States.


Louisiana waterthrush Behavior

Louisiana waterthrushes have related behavior patterns to northern waterthrushes. These birds typically sing from branches and through the flight.

Both species even have a behavior of bobbing their tail, in a teetering stance, significantly whereas looking for prey. This is a key behavioral attribute of waterthrushes because the genus name Seiurus means “tail-bobber”.

Louisiana waterthrushes stroll alongside the forest flooring, relatively than hopping. During the flight, they’re quick, direct, and barely undulating with fast wing beats.

During spring migration, Louisiana waterthrushes arrive a lot earlier to their northern range than northern waterthrushes. By mid-March, these birds usually attain the Gulf Coast.

By mid-to-late April, they attain the Great Lakes area. Typically, migration is accomplished by mid-May. Louisiana waterthrushes additionally start their winter migration early.

Louisiana waterthrushes might display annual site constancy to each of their wintering and breeding sites. Up to 50% of females reoccupy territories from the earlier year, continuously with identical mates. These birds additionally are usually territorial.

Louisiana waterthrush Description

The Louisiana waterthrush has a plain brown back and white underparts streaked with black. The flanks and undertail are buffs. There is a powerful white flared supercilium, and the legs are brilliant pink.

All plumages are related, however, younger birds have buff underparts relatively than white.

The primary confusion species is the carefully associated northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis), which has white flanks and undertail, a striped throat, a barely smaller bill, a shorter supercilium, and duller pink legs.

Due to their look, this species is usually known as a ‘waterthrush’, though they’re truly ‘wooden warblers’ by classification.

Louisiana waterthrushes have darkish olive-brown upperparts, with a distinguished, white supercilium that extends behind their eyes. Their underparts are white with a slight buff wash on their flanks.

Their breast, however not their neck is darkly streaked. Their bill is darkish, skinny, and pointed and their legs are pinkish. They can develop as much as 17 cm in size; with an average wingspan of around 25 cm.

Hatchlings are lined in darkish grey down. Their mouth is red and their gape flanges are yellow. As hatchlings age, they grow to be similar to adults, though immature birds might have buffy or rusty recommendations on their tertials, their tail feathers could also be more pointed and so they lack any white on their outer tail feathers.

This species is usually confused with northern waterthrushes, which have heavier streaking on their breasts and neck. Louisiana waterthrushes additionally are usually bulkier and have a broader white supercilium.

Brownish above, with a really distinguished white eyebrow (supercilium); pale under, with darkish streaks. The supercilium is thicker in Louisiana than in ​Northern and tends to flare on the rear. The legs are brilliant pink.


Louisiana waterthrushes mature in a year and have a brief lifespan, which is typical of most small birds. Their average life span is about eight years. In common, the average annual survival charge of North American wooden warblers is about 60%.

Size and form

A big, considerably plump warbler, with a stout bill (larger than Northern Waterthrush’s), relatively quick tail, and long legs.

Louisiana waterthrush Food Habits

Louisiana waterthrushes are carnivorous birds, feeding totally on aquatic bugs and bug larvae. However, they do feed on different small aquatic animals equivalent to mollusks, crustaceans, small fish, and amphibians.

They may additionally feed on terrestrial invertebrates, equivalent to earthworms, caterpillars, and chilopods. During nesting season, waterthrushes feed nearly totally in and alongside streams.

However, additionally, they forage in stagnant swimming pools alongside swamp edges. While foraging, these birds flip over leaves, dislodging their aquatic prey.

Louisiana waterthrushes additionally decide into crannies, looking for bugs and spiders, or forage on floating particles. Likewise, they could catch flying bugs, equivalent to dragonflies and stoneflies, in mid-flight.

Louisiana waterthrushes are quick feeders. They usually carry out 10 or more feeding maneuvers per minute.

Louisiana waterthrush Feeding Behavior

Aquatic and terrestrial bugs, crustaceans. Eats many bugs together with beetles, bugs, adult and larval mayflies, dragonflies, crane-fly larvae, ants, caterpillars, scale bugs; additionally small crustaceans, snails, a number of small fish and seeds. Tends to take bigger gadgets than Northern Waterthrush.

Walks on the ground whereas foraging, normally alongside edge or in water, over stones and moss. Turns over useless or moist leaves to seek out prey.

Also flies out over streams to catch flying bugs. Defends winter feeding territories towards different waterthrushes.

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Louisiana waterthrush Habitat

Louisiana waterthrushes usually reside in areas with operating waters, equivalent to brooks, river swamps, and even sluggish streams.

They want creeks that might be closely wooded with limestone edges alongside the banks, significantly of their northern range, in addition to areas with average to sparse undergrowth.

Although they like operating water, they are often present in swamps within the southern portion of their range, in addition to throughout migration.

Louisiana waterthrushes are thought of as area-sensitive forest species as a result of they exhibit a desire for older growth woodlands.

They require giant tracts, of at the least 100 ha, of those mature forests.

There is a 50% decrease chance of Louisiana waterthrushes being present in forests smaller than 350 ha. These birds additionally keep away from areas of high elevation.

During the breeding season, Louisiana waterthrushes typically nest alongside streams in hilly deciduous forests, in cypress swamps, in bottomland forests, or in ravines and gorges close to flowing water.

During wintering months, they nest alongside rivers and streams in hilly or mountainous areas from coastal northern Mexico and the Caribbean to excessive northwestern South America.

Louisiana waterthrushes have been recognized to display annual constancy to each breeding and wintering site.

Louisiana waterthrush Communication

This species’ song begins with three or 4 high, clear, slurred whistles, adopted by a sequence of jumbled and descending chirps.

They even have an alternate song that’s related, however for much longer and more rambling.

Their call is a loud, sturdy spich sound. Males are usually quiet throughout migration and nest construction.

They are altogether quieter than male northern waterthrushes, which start singing throughout migration and proceed singing throughout nest constructing and egg incubation.

Louisiana waterthrush Reproduction

Louisiana waterthrushes are usually monogamous and are strictly solitary breeders. They might or might not have identical mates for a number of breeding seasons. During their arrival to the breeding territories, males sing excessively.

They usually arrive at their breeding territories in mid-to-late April or early May. When nesting begins, male singing stops, however, resumes at a low level after hatching.

Louisiana waterthrushes are aggressive in defending their territory towards conspecifics and territories not often if ever, are neighboring.

Louisiana waterthrushes produce a single brood of three to six eggs every year. Eggs are sub-elliptical to quick sub-elliptical in form.

They are clean, barely shiny, and white or creamy-white in coloration, with brown or reddish-brown speckling.

The young hatch in 12 to 14 days and fledge at around 10 days.

Louisiana waterthrushes nest from April to June. Nests are constructed by each female and male bird in four to six days. Nests are sometimes constructed in small holes that birds gouge into stream banks. They may additionally nest in areas hidden amongst uncovered tree roots or in stump cavities.

Holes are stuffed with leaves, moss, and grass; the birds typically go away a path of leaves or grass on the front of the opening, normally main towards the stream.

Nests are usually properly hidden by roots and hanging vegetation and are normally 0.5 to four m above the water floor. Incubation lasts about 12 to 14 days and is just carried out by females.

Young are altricial and are tended by each the female and male. At 10 days, younger are developed sufficient to depart the nest, nevertheless, they nonetheless require additional parental care.

After around 16 days, the younger can fly and after a further 7 days, they’ll feed themselves. Fledged younger stay alongside their natal streams for a few months, after which, they wander progressively farther (as much as 5 km) away, unattended by parents.


Within their breeding and wintering ranges, Louisiana waterthrushes are seemingly glorious bio-indicators for the health of headwater, medium-gradient and coldwater streams, in addition to intact, mature deciduous forested swamps.

This is as a result of Louisiana waterthrushes are forest-interior, migratory birds that require streams for meals and nesting sites. Additionally, brown-headed cowbirds generally parasitize nests of Louisiana waterthrushes.

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Louisiana waterthrush Conservation

Reported declines of Louisiana waterthrushes have been a long time period (larger than twenty years) and are more likely to proceed sooner or later.

Because they’ve restricted and specialized habitat necessities for his or her breeding and wintering grounds, these birds are delicate to modifications in habitat high quality and amount.

Their largest risk is habitat loss, significantly on account of mountaintop removal-valley fill coal mining within the southern Appalachian Mountains.

In this mining process, all the mountaintop is eliminated and the waste rock is dumped into stream valleys.

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