Priority Bird
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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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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.
Learn more about this sound collection.