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Louisiana Waterthrush

Parkesia motacilla

Length: 6 inches Wingspan: 9 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: White eyebrow, white underparts with buffy-pinkish flanks, olive striping on breast and sides, olive-brownish upperparts.

Louisiana Waterthrush - Parkesia motacillaThe Louisiana Waterthrush is the less widespread and common of the two Waterthrushes (the Northern Waterthrush being the other).  They have a characteristic rear bobbing action as they forage in and around water   They usually flush into the surrounding forest when alarmed, with a sharp call note as they go.

Habitat: Nearly always found in and around aquatic habitats, primarily in forested environments.  This includes bottomland swamps and lagoons, riparian areas, and hilly brooks and streams.  In winter in the tropics, they also prefer forested areas in and around water, even sometimes using coastal mangrove swamps.

Diet: Feeds on both aquatic and terrestrial insects, as well as small crustaceans and mollusks, tiny fish, and occasionally seeds. 

Behavior: Usually forages by walking along the ground, often along the edge of water or even in it, as they turn over stones and vegetation in search of food.  They will also catch flying insects in midair.

Breeding Map: Non-breeder in South Dakota.

Song: Loud clear song, beginning with 3 or 4 clear whistles, followed by a short rapid medley of jumbled notes.  Click here to listen to the Louisiana Waterthrush's song.  Also, click to listen to the Louisiana Waterthrush's call.

Migration: Summers throughout most of the Southeastern U.S. south of the Great Lakes and New England.  Winters in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Lousiana Waterthrush sightings

Similar Species: Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird

Status: Current populations are probably stable, but overall, numbers are much lower than historical levels due to habitat loss in the Southeastern United States.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Louisiana Waterthrush

2) WhatBird -  Louisiana Waterthrush

3) Audubon Guide - Louisiana Waterthrush

Photo Information: Photo courtesy of Matt Weitzel (click here for original presentation on Flickr).


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Louisiana Waterthrush - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant in the far southeastern part of the state.

Additional Louisiana Waterthrush Photos (coming soon!)