Species of the Month: Wood thrush (June, 2022)

June 30, 2022

Species of the Month: Wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina)
Defining Characteristics:
- Reddish-brown feathers on top
- White pot belly with black spots
- Juveniles, similar in appearance just less vibrant colour/pattern.
- Short tail and straight bill
- Shape and posture look similar to a scaled-down robin.
- Distinctive alarm calls which sound like a machine gun.
- Wood thrush move in a bobbing-like fashion.
Habitat and Diet:
The wood thrush can be found hopping through the forest floor where there is plenty of leaf litter. In the summer they breed in primarily deciduous and mixed forests where there are large trees, moderate understory and shade. During the winter months, they travel thousands of miles to the tropical regions of Central America.
When feeding, they forage along the forest floor, overturning leaves in search of insects to eat.
Conservation Status and Threats: Special Concern in Ontario
Why are they in decline?
- Loss or fragmentation of forest habitat
- Over-browsing by white-tailed deer. This can decrease diversity of plants, including the number of tree saplings where the wood thrush builds nests.
- Parasitic behaviour from brown-headed cowbirds. Brown-headed cowbirds often lay their eggs in the nests of other bird species, including the wood thrush. The host wood thrush will confuse the cowbird chicks for its own and feed them. Often at the expense of their own young.
Wood thrush and EBC:
There have been recordings of wood thrush on 12 of EBC's wilderness preserves.