Northern Waterthrush Life History


Habitat ForestsBreeds in thickets near slow-moving streams, ponds, swamps, and bogs; in migration and winter, uses a variety of wooded habitats, generally near water, often in mangroves.Back to top


Food InsectsInsects. Also other arthropods, snails, and occasionally small fish.Back to top


Nest Placement

Nest Ground

Nest Description

Open cup of moss and leaves, lined with fine plant stems, rootlets, hair, and moss. May construct entranceway of whole dead leaves. Nest placed in small hollow or cavity under fallen log, or within roots of an upturned tree.

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size:1-6 eggs
Egg Description:White with dark spots and scrawls concentrated around large end.
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Behavior Ground ForagerFeeds mainly on ground, wades in shallow water.Back to top


Conservation Low ConcernNorthern Waterthrush are common and widespread. However, U.S. populations experienced a small decline between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 19 million with 28% spending part of the year in the U.S., 72% in Canada, and 25% in Mexico. They rate a 10 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score and are not listed in the 2014 State of the Birds Report. Back to top


Lutmerding, J. A. and A. S. Love. Longevity records of North American birds. Version 2015.2. Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Bird Banding Laboratory 2015.

North American Bird Conservation Initiative. 2014. The State of the Birds 2014 Report. US Department of Interior, Washington, DC, USA.

Partners in Flight (2017). Avian Conservation Assessment Database. 2017.

Sauer, J. R., J. E. Hines, J. E. Fallon, K. L. Pardieck, Jr. Ziolkowski, D. J. and W. A. Link. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, results and analysis 1966-2013 (Version 1.30.15). USGS Patuxtent Wildlife Research Center 2014b. Available from

Sibley, D. A. (2014). The Sibley guide to birds, second edition. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, USA.

Stephenson, T. and S. Whittle (2013). The Warbler Guide. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, USA. 

Whitaker, Darroch M. and Stephen W. Eaton. 2014. Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (P. G. Rodewald, editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York, USA.

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