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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.



  • 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

Little evidence of changing numbers. Not well censused by Breeding Bird Survey.


  • Robinson, W. D. 1995. Louisiana Waterthrush (Seirurs motacilla). In The Birds of North America, No. 151 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, PA, and The American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.

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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