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Louisiana Waterthrush


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of forest streams, the Louisiana Waterthrush looks more like a thrush or sparrow than the warbler it is. It can be recognized by its loud ringing call and constant bobbing of its tail.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
5.5 in
14 cm
9.4 in
24 cm
0.7–0.8 oz
19–23 g
Other Names
  • Paruline hochequeue (French)

Cool Facts

  • The Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes are very similar species whose breeding ranges overlap slightly. Their songs and their habitats, while similar, differ significantly. The pitch of the beginning notes of the Louisiana's song usually descend, just as does the hilly stream that is its preferred habitat. The Northern Waterthrush prefers bogs and waters that are flat, just as its beginning notes stay on the same pitch.
  • The Louisiana Waterthrush occasionally takes naps during the middle of the day. Unlike when it sleeps at night, a napping waterthrush does not tuck its bill behind a wing. Instead, it pulls its neck into its body, squats down and covers its legs with its body feathers, and shuts its eyes.
  • Unlike many warblers, the male Louisiana Waterthrush does not sing on its wintering grounds before it leaves. It sings immediately when it arrives on its breeding territory. Whether it begins singing during migration is not known. When establishing his territory, a male sings vigorously nearly all day. After he acquires a mate, singing decreases quickly and he concentrates his singing into the morning hours.
  • The oldest recorded Louisiana Waterthrush was a male, and at least 11 years, 11 months old, when he was seen in New Jersey in the wild and identified by his band. He had been banded in the same state.



  • Breeds along gravel-bottomed streams flowing through hilly, deciduous forest.
  • Winters in similar habitat.



Insects. Also other arthropods, earthworms, and occasionally small frogs and fish.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–6 eggs
Egg Description
Creamy white with reddish brown splotches, usually concentrated around larger end.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with tufts of dark gray down.
Nest Description

Open cup of mud, leaves, plant stems, pine needles, and small twigs built on foundation of wet leaves. Lined with fine plant stems, rootlets, hair, and moss. May construct entranceway of whole dead leaves. Nest placed in small hollow or cavity on stream bank, under fallen log, or within roots of an upturned tree.

Nest Placement



Ground Forager

Picks at substrate, pulls up submerged leaves, hawks flying insects, and hover-gleans insects off vegetation.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Louisiana Waterthrush populations were stable between 1966 and 2015, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 360,000, with 100% spending at least part of the year in the U.S., and 28% wintering in Mexico. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Louisiana Waterthrush is a U.S.-Canada Stewardship species. It is not on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List.


Range Map Help

Louisiana Waterthrush Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings

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eBird Occurrence Maps, Louisiana Waterthrush



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