The wood thrush is medium-sized bird native to North America. It is a close relative of the American Robin and the other thrushes.
|Size||18 to 21.5 cm (7.1 to 8.5 inch) long|
|Wingspan||30 to 40 cm (12 to 16 inch)|
|Weight||48 to 72 g|
|Color||Adults: Brownish upper body and white under parts speckled with brown. It has white rings around the eyes, and the legs are pinkish.
Juveniles: whitish mottled upperbody, dark underparts.
|Distribution/Range||Their range extends right from southern Canada to northern Florida and from the Atlantic coast to the Missouri River and the great eastern plains. They migrate to the lowland areas of southern Mexico and Panama along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts during winters.|
|Habitat||Deciduous and mixed forests and to some extent in the fragmented forests and suburban parks with a good number of large trees. During winters, they are mostly found in the palm tropical forests in lowlands.|
|Nesting||Mid April to early May|
|Sounds||Flute like songs with three variations.|
|What do they eat||Soil invertebrates, larvae, fruits, and insects.|
|Adaptation||They use their slightly curved bill to turn over leaves in search of prey on the forest floor.|
|Clutch size||2-4 eggs|
|Number of broods||2 broods per year|
|Incubation period||12-14 days|
|IUCN Conservation Status||Near threatened|
These birds are known to be solitary, however, during winters they may form flocks with other bird species. Some individuals tend to defend their feeding zones. Territorial disputes are mostly settled without physical clashes, but while defending their nests, they resort to aggressive physical contact with their feet and bill. They also opt for other defensive action like wing flicks, tail flicks, raising the crest along with extreme measures like dives and strikes against predators like brown-headed cowbirds, southern flying squirrels, black rat snakes.
A peculiar behavior of “anting” is seen in these birds where they pick the ants and rub them on the wings. The reason behind it is still unclear however it is assumed that the birds acquire some medicinal utility through it or as a supplement of bird’s own preen oil.
Breeding and Nesting
These birds are monogamous by nature. They begin nesting by the end of spring or early summer by choosing a vast breeding area, which is used for feeding and accumulating materials for nesting. The females usually choose the nesting site, but at times the male convinces her in site selection by perching nearby and singing.
They prefer tall trees that have an understory of saplings, shrubs with an open floor of moist soil, decaying leaves and nearby water source. Pale blue or bluish-green eggs are laid in a cup nest made out of mud, moss, dried leaves bordered by fine twigs or roots.
Wood Thrush Song Video
The female lays one egg per day till it reaches the clutch size of 2-4 eggs. When the chicks hatch, their body is totally featherless and eyes closed. Post-hatching, the brooding is done by the female for the first four days. Males and females together feed the chicks as well as clean the nest. The chicks fledge after 12-15 days, but the parents feed them until they become entirely independent. The chicks leave the parents territory after a period of 21-31 days.
The population of the wood thrush is declining at an alarming rate, and threats like habitat loss, excessive nest predation and cowbird parasitism due to fragmentation of forest are key responsible factors.
- A German naturalist named Johann Friedrich Gmelin in 1789 first discovered the wood thrush bird. It became renowned for its sad melodious songs.
- In Europe, wood thrush was twice declared as vagrant bird.
- The common name is derived from Greek word denoting woodland and thrush which is also a translation of genus name.
- It is the official bird of the District of Colombia.