Northern Waterthrush – Profile | Female | Song | Traits | Range

Northern Waterthrush

The Northern Waterthrush is a big warbler with a long, heavy bill and a flattish head. Males and females look alike. They are darkish brown above and buff-white with darkish streaks beneath. They have distinctive darkish eyes-lines with a white line above that and darkish caps. Their wings and tails seem stable dark-brown from above.

Northern Waterthrush profile

The Northern Waterthrush is more likely to be discovered around bogs and streams contained in the forest.

Often shy and exhausting to the method, it attracts consideration with its odd “teetering” behavior — bobbing the rear half of its body up and down continuously because it walks —

and with its loud metallic call note. It has a large distribution in each summertime (Alaska to New Jersey) and winter (Florida to South America).

Northern Waterthrush Overview

The northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis) is likely one of the bigger New World warblers and one of many Nearctic-Neotropical migratory songbirds.

It breeds within the northern part of North America in Canada and the northern United States together with Alaska.

This bird is migratory, wintering in Central America, the West Indies, and Florida, in addition to in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador. It is a really uncommon vagrant to different South American nations and to western Europe.

Dark brown above, whitish to pale yellowish beneath, and supercilium. Dark streaking on the breast. Best distinguished from very related Louisiana Waterthrush by thinner, more yellowish supercilium and usually noticed throat, drabber leg shade. Habitat ought to be thought about when figuring out waterthrushes. The song is the greatest indicator of species.

Geographic Range

In the breeding season, the Northern Waterthrush is present in a belt stretching from north-central Alaska, east throughout all the Canadian provinces. In the winter season, the species is discovered within the tropical mangroves of Central and South America.

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Northern Waterthrush Description

The northern waterthrush is a big New World warbler (and never a thrush, regardless of the name).

It has a size of 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in), a wingspan of 21–24 cm (8.3–9.4 in) and weighs between 13 and 25 g (0.46 and 0.88 oz) Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 6.8 to 8.2 cm (2.7 to 3.2 in), the tail is 4.5 to 5.7 cm (1.8 to 2.2 in), the bill is 1.1 to 1.2 cm (0.43 to 0.47 in) and the tarsus is 1.9 to 2.3 cm (0.75 to 0.91 in).

On the top, the crown is brown with a white supercilium. The bill is pointed and darkish. The throat is evenly streaked brown to black with heavier streaking persevering onto the breast and flanks.

The back is evenly brown. Sexes are morphologically related. Young birds have the buff, relatively than white underparts.

The sole species bird watchers confuse with the northern waterthrush is the intently associated Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla), which has buff flanks, a buff undertail, and vivid pink legs.

The Louisiana waterthrush additionally has a whiter throat with fewer streaks. More delicate clues embody smaller size and smaller bill, a narrower and darker eye-line, and totally different call notice and habits.

Both waterthrush species stroll relatively than hopping and appear to teeter since they bob their rear ends as they transfer alongside.

Northern Waterthrush Behavior

On the wintering grounds in Puerto Rico, northern waterthrushes depart daytime foraging areas and fly as much as 2 km (1.2 mi) to nighttime roosts.

The roosts are sometimes positioned in red mangrove habitats. Northern waterthrushes winter in Four essential habitats in Puerto Rico: white mangrove, red mangrove, black mangrove, and scrub.

Males, that are bigger and migrate earlier in spring, choose to winter in white mangrove, and are capable of keep or acquire weight by the winter. Females winter within the different drier and fewer food-rich habitats.

Waterthrushes wintering in red and black mangroves can keep body weight by the winter however drop some pounds in the scrub. Another determinant in body mass improvement within the wintering grounds is moisture.

Northern Waterthrush Habitat

The Northern Waterthrush prefers cool, darkish, wooded swamps, thickets of bogs, margins of northern lakes, and willow and alder bordered rivers. During the spring and fall migration, the bird might be present in thick cover alongside streams, in marshes, and by stagnant swimming pools.

Swampy or moist woods, streamsides, lakeshores; in migration, additionally thickets. Breeds largely in coniferous forests with standing or sluggish water, as present in shrubby bogs and edges of northern lakes, much less usually alongside swift streams.

In migration, could seem in any habitat; more frequent in thickets alongside edges of the water. In winter in the tropics, usually in coastal mangrove swamps.


The song of loud, empathic, clear chirping notes usually falling in pitch and accelerating; loosely paired or tripled, with little variation. Call a loud, exhausting spwik rising with a powerful Okay sound. The flight call is a buzzy, high, barely rising zzip.


Aquatic and terrestrial bugs, crustaceans. Feeds primarily on bugs, together with water beetles, water bugs, flea beetles, damselflies, weevils, mosquitoes, ants, fly pupae, caterpillars, moths; additionally some slugs, snails, crustaceans, and infrequently small fish. Takes largely bugs in winter, add some small crustaceans and different invertebrates.

Northern Waterthrush Feeding Behavior

During the breeding season, the fundamental diet consists of larval and adult bugs, spiders, and snails. After leaf emergence within the spring, the bird feeds on totally on butterfly larvae.

On the winter grounds, the bird consumes a higher number of meals, including minnows and decapod crustaceans to its diet. The Northern Waterthrush forages alone utilizing such techniques as twig gleaning, flycatching, hovering, chasing, and loads of pecking.

Microhabitats for foraging embody water, ground, foliage, and air. Before leaf emergence, the Waterthrush usually spends about 75% of the time feeding in water, alternating between wading and strolling alongside logs, on branches, and the water’s edge.

Walks on the ground and wades in shallow water. Often forages on half-submerged logs. Uncovers prey by tossing apart lifeless and soggy leaves present in rock crevices. Defends winter feeding territories towards different waterthrushes.

Northern Waterthrush Eggs

4-5, typically 3-6. Whitish, with brown, purple-gray spots and blotches. Incubation is by feminine, 12-13 days. In the southern part of the range, usually parasitized by cowbirds.

Young: Fed by each parent. Young depart the nest roughly 10 days after hatching, can fly effectively by a few weeks later.


Fed by each parent. Young depart the nest roughly 10 days after hatching, can fly effectively by a few weeks later.

Northern Waterthrush Reproduction

Pair bonding begins instantly after the feminine arrives on the breeding site. Males perch in timber which can be standing close to water whereas females are beneath normally feeding alongside the sting of the water.

Males vibrate their wings and lift their crown feathers and sing. The feminine could reply with a chink. The pair bond is damaged shortly after profitable fledging.

The male selects the final space of the nesting site, however, the feminine chooses the precise nest site. Nests are normally within the cavity of a root system of wind-blown timber in a wooded swamp, on the aspect of a fern clump or below cover alongside the banks of a lake or a river.

There is often masking above the nest and a gap to at least one aspect. The exterior of the nest is especially moss and liverwort gametophytes.

The inside of the nest cup is constructed with grass stems, twigs, or pine needles, after which lined with the hair of deer, caribou, cow, and rabbit.

The average clutch consists of 4 white ovate eggs noticed with browns and greys. The feminine is solely liable for incubation, which lasts 12 days. Both parents, nevertheless, share feeding tasks. After 4 to 5 weeks the chicks start feeding themselves.

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Northern Waterthrush Nesting

Males sing all through the breeding season, not ceasing after pair formation; the song apparently serves to defend territory. Sometimes sings in flight.

Nest site is normally in a small hole in a moss-covered stump, below a jutting bank, or 0-2′ above the ground in roots of an uprooted tree, usually very close to water.

The nest is in form of an open cup, usually effectively hidden amongst ferns. Constructed by feminine of leaf skeletons, sphagnum moss, pine needles, twigs, inside the bark, and lined with delicate materials corresponding to red moss filaments.


Degradation of habitat and pesticides are the most important threats going through the species. Northern Waterthrush populations, nevertheless, have managed to stay stable regardless of these threats.

Drainage of swamps for agriculture and wetland improvement into ponds or lakes could cut back breeding habitat. Pesticides are additionally affecting the Northern Waterthrush.

Aerial spraying for the spruce budworm can kill the birds immediately or cut back the biomass of their prey.

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