Living Bird Magazine
Northern WaterthrushParkesia noveboracensis
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Parulidae
The Northern Waterthrush is often an unseen singer whose rich, sweet whistles lure listeners into its attractive habitats, the wooded swamps and bogs of northern North America. These streaky brown songbirds lack the bold colors of many other warblers and don’t forage in forest canopies. They forage at the water’s edge in bogs and still water, where they hunt aquatic insects and small salamanders, all the while bobbing the rear of the body, much like a Solitary Sandpiper, another denizen of shady swamps.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Find Northern Waterthrushes in summer by taking a pleasant stroll through a wooded swamp or bog. Listen for their sharp call notes and sweet songs. Whereas Louisiana Waterthrushes live along rushing streams, Northern is usually found around standing water. Migrants can be found in the tiniest of wetlands, even just small rain puddles, provided there is cover nearby. On tropical wintering grounds, the species uses mangrove wetlands.
- Reinita Charquera Norteña (Spanish)
- Paruline des ruisseaux (French)
- Cool Facts
- As their habitats change during the course of the nonbreeding season, becoming drier or wetter, Northern Waterthrushes move around to seek optimal wet habitats that provide adequate food. For some, this means moving to a wetter part of the swamp, but others that winter in tropical mountain forests move downslope as the dry season commences.
- On their wintering grounds, Northern Waterthrushes often roost communally at night, sometimes among groups of Gray Kingbirds. These roosts may be more than a mile from their daytime feeding areas.
- Northern Waterthrushes are territorial in both winter and summer. On the breeding grounds the male proclaims his territory with a loud, ringing song. On the wintering grounds it uses sharp chink calls, together with chasing and fighting, to keep out intruders.
- The oldest recorded Northern Waterthrush was at least 8 years, 11 months old when it was recaptured and re-released during banding operations in Michigan in 1987. It had been banded in Ontario in 1978.