Photo: Kelly Colgan Azar/Flickr Creative Commons

Priority Bird

Wood Thrush

Hylocichla mustelina

Seemingly not as shy as the other brown thrushes, not as bold as the Robin, the Wood Thrush seems intermediate between those two related groups. It sometimes nests in suburbs and city parks, and it is still common in many eastern woodlands, where its flutelike songs add music to summer mornings. However, numbers of Wood Thrushes have declined seriously in recent decades, focusing the attention of conservationists on the problems facing our migratory birds.
Conservation status Numbers have declined seriously in recent decades. Cowbirds lay many eggs in their nests, so the thrushes often raise mainly cowbirds, with few young of their own. As forests are cut into smaller fragments, it apparently becomes easier for cowbirds to penetrate these small woodlots and find more of the thrush nests. The Wood Thrush is probably also losing wintering habitat in the tropics.
Family Thrushes
Habitat Mainly deciduous woodlands. Breeds in the understory of woodlands, mostly deciduous but sometimes mixed, in areas with tall trees. More numerous in damp forest and near streams than in drier woods; will nest in suburban areas where there are enough large trees. In migration, found in various kinds of woodland. Winters in understory of lowland tropical forest.
Seemingly not as shy as the other brown thrushes, not as bold as the Robin, the Wood Thrush seems intermediate between those two related groups. It sometimes nests in suburbs and city parks, and it is still common in many eastern woodlands, where its flutelike songs add music to summer mornings. However, numbers of Wood Thrushes have declined seriously in recent decades, focusing the attention of conservationists on the problems facing our migratory birds.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult (1st year)
  • adult
  • adults and nestlings
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly on ground, usually in forest undergrowth but occasionally on open lawns. Will use its bill to flip leaf-litter aside as it seeks insects. Feeds on berries up in shrubs and trees.


Eggs

Usually 3-4. Pale greenish blue, unmarked. Incubation is by female only, 13-14 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12 days after hatching. 1-2 broods per year.

Diet

Mostly insects and berries. Feeds on many insects, especially in breeding season, including beetles, caterpillars, ants, crickets, moths, and many others; also spiders, earthworms, and snails. Berries and small fruits are eaten at all seasons. Young are fed mostly insects but also some berries.


Nesting

Male arrives first on breeding grounds, establishes territory, and defends it by singing. Often reacts aggressively to other thrushes in territory, such as Robin or Veery. In courtship, male may chase female in fast circular flights among the trees. Nest: Placed in vertical fork of tree (usually deciduous) or saddled on horizontal branch, usually about 10-15' above the ground, sometimes lower, rarely as high as 50'. Nest (built by female) is rather like Robin's nest, an open cup of grass, leaves, moss, weeds, bark strips, mixed with mud; has lining of soft material such as rootlets. Often adds pieces of white paper or other trash to nest.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Many migrate across Gulf of Mexico in spring and fall.

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Migration

Migrates mostly at night. Many migrate across Gulf of Mexico in spring and fall.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A series of rich, melodious, flute-like phrases; call a sharp pit-pit-pit-pit.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Thrushes Perching Birds

Wood Thrush

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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Eastern Forests

Eastern Forests

Full-lifecycle conservation for seven priority species along the Atlantic Flyway

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