Louisiana waterthrush | American birds

   ›      ›   Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla

The Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) belongs to the family of New World warblers and waterthrush species, the Parulidae.

The Louisiana waterthrush is distributed in North America, South America and Caribbean. These waterthrush species are fully migratory. These waterthrush species are monotypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Louisiana Waterthrush Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) is a medium-sized waterthrush, measuring 15 to 16 cm in length and weighing 17 to 26 grams.

The Louisiana waterthrush has brown upperparts. The white underparts are streaked pale brown. The flanks and undertail are pale buff. There is a white supercilium extending down to the rear of the neck.

The bill is sharp, long and grayish. The irises are dark brown. The legs and feet are pale pink. The call is a series of shrill, slurred whistling and "chink.. chink" sound.
Bird World - Image of Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
1.Bird World - Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
Image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Bird World - Image of Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
2.Bird World - Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
Image by William H. Majoros

Bird World - Image of Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
3.Bird World - Louisiana waterthrush - Parkesia motacilla
Image by Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The Louisiana waterthrush is distributed in southeast Canada, eastern USA, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela and the Caribbean islands.

Passage birds have been observed in Florida, coastal regions adjoining Gulf of Mexico and areas adjoining southeastern coast of USA. Vagrant birds have been observed in Greenland (Denmark) and Spain.

Ecosystem and habitat

The Louisiana waterthrush species have low forest dependence. They normally occur in altitudes between 0 to 100 meters.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these species include temperate forests, temperate shrublands, wooded ravines, inland wetlands, streams and rivers.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of the Louisiana waterthrush species consists mainly of insects. Aquatic insects, terrestrial insects, crustaceans and molluscs are their primary food.

They forage actively in running water. They glean their prey from the leaf litter and also hawk flying insects.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these species is from April and July. These birds are monogamous and territorial. The breeding habitat includes wooded areas near water sources.

The nest is built in rock crevices, elevations near mud bank and amongst tree roots. The nest is built with pine needles, grass, leaves and twigs.

The clutch contains four to six eggs and the female incubates them. The chicks hatch out after 12 days of incubation and fledge after nine or ten days. The parents feed the young for further four weeks.

Migration and movement patterns

The Louisiana waterthrush species are fully migratory birds. The breeding populations occur in southeastern USA and southeastern Canada (southern Ontario). They migrate to the wintering grounds in July and August.

The wintering populations of these waterthrush species are distributed in Central America from Mexico to Panama, Caribbean islands and northern parts of South America. The return migration occurs in early summer.

Louisiana waterthrush - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Parkesia motacilla
  • Species author: (Vieillot, 1809)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Turdus motacilla Vieillot, 1809
  • Family: Parulidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia,
  • Vernacular names: English: Louisiana waterthrush, Chinese: 白眉灶莺, French: Paruline hochequeue German: Stelzenwaldsänger Spanish: Reinita charquera de Luisiana, Russian: Белобровый дроздовый певун, Japanese: ミナミミズツグミ
  • Other names: Louisiana Waterthrush, Large-billed Waterthrush
  • Distribution: South America, North America, Caribbean
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, crustaceans, molluscs
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) has not been estimated. The overall population trend of the species is considered to be increasing.

In most of its range, this species is reported to be uncommon to locally common. The generation length is 4.5 years. Its distribution size is about 3,520,000 sq.km.

Ecosystem degradation, ecosystem conversion and capture of adult and juvenile birds for pet-trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of the species.

IUCN and CITES status

The Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) species does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the waterthrush species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Parkesia motacilla
Species:P. motacilla
Binomial name:Parkesia motacilla
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) is closely related to the northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis).
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1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildreturn/25640117833/ (cropped)
Image author: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 10/25/18
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Louisiana-waterthrush-2.jpg (cropped)
Image author: William H. Majoros | License: CC BY-SA 3.0 as on 10/25/18
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wildreturn/33428183754/ (cropped)
Image author: Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 10/25/18
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