My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

The northern waterthrush is one of the larger New World warblers. It breeds in the northern part of North America in Canada and the northern United States including Alaska. This bird is migratory, wintering in Central America, the West Indies and Florida, as well as in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador.

The northern waterthrush is a large New World warbler (and not a thrush, despite the name). It has a length of 12–15 cm (4.7–5.9 in), wingspan of 21–24 cm (8.3–9.4 in) and weighs between 13 and 25 g (0.46 and 0.88 oz) Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 6.8 to 8.2 cm (2.7 to 3.2 in), the tail is 4.5 to 5.7 cm (1.8 to 2.2 in), the bill is 1.1 to 1.2 cm (0.43 to 0.47 in) and the tarsus is 1.9 to 2.3 cm (0.75 to 0.91 in). On the head, the crown is brown with a white supercilium. The bill is pointed and dark. The throat is lightly streaked brown to black with heavier streaking continuing onto the breast and flanks. The back is evenly brown. Sexes are morphologically similar. Young birds have buff, rather than white underparts.

The only species bird watchers confuse with the northern waterthrush is the closely related Louisiana waterthrush, which has buff flanks, a buff under-tail, and bright pink legs. The Louisiana waterthrush also has a whiter throat with fewer streaks.

Both waterthrush species walk rather than hop, and seem to teeter, since they bob their rear ends as they move along.

The breeding habitat of the northern waterthrush is wet woodlands near water. It nests in a stump or among tree roots where it lays three to six eggs, cream or buff-colored, with brown and gray spots. These eggs are laid in a cup nest constructed of leaves, bark strips, and rootlets.

The northern waterthrush is a terrestrial feeder, eating insects, mollusks, and crustaceans found amongst leaf litter.

Its song is a loud swee swee chit chit weedleoo, and its call is a hard chink.

On to my photos:

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

Northern Waterthrush, Parkesia noveboracensis

This is number 172 in my photo life list, only 178 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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19 responses

  1. Nearly halfway…great work. Lovely.

    January 19, 2015 at 12:32 am

    • Thank you very much!

      January 19, 2015 at 6:18 am

  2. What a lovely little bird. Yep, you’re getting so close to the halfway mark. Congratulations.

    January 19, 2015 at 2:32 am

    • Thanks Gunta! I have the drafts to reach the half-way point already done and saved, so it won’t be long now.

      January 19, 2015 at 6:20 am

  3. This little guy is gorgeous, and your photos do him justice.

    January 19, 2015 at 2:36 am

    • Thank you Judy!

      January 19, 2015 at 6:20 am

  4. Excellent photos, I can see why it is called a thrush, what a lovely speckled breast it has.

    January 19, 2015 at 2:51 am

    • Thanks Susan!

      January 19, 2015 at 6:20 am

  5. A lovely little bird and wonderful captures with your camera. You’ll be able to publish your own bird book one day with all this information and pics! I hope you’ll be able to photograph many new birds this year. 🙂

    January 19, 2015 at 6:53 am

    • Thanks Jane! The information comes from online sources, but the photos are mine.

      January 19, 2015 at 11:08 pm

  6. Nice shots Jerry!

    January 19, 2015 at 8:37 am

    • Thanks Allen!

      January 19, 2015 at 11:08 pm

  7. OK, I consider myself a reasonably seasoned birder but I’ve never even heard of a waterthrush! What a gorgeous bird, too! Will have to look ’em up & see if there’s any around here. Thx for sharing!!!

    January 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    • Thanks Lori! I had never heard of them until I began this project. As far as I know, both the Northern and Louisiana waterthrushes breed north of the US, and are only seen here during migration.

      January 19, 2015 at 11:11 pm

      • That ‘splains it then! 🙂

        January 20, 2015 at 9:32 am

  8. A really pretty bird and like Susan, I too can see why it is called a thrush as it looks like a Song Thrush.

    January 19, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    • Thank you Clare! The photos may be deceiving, this bird is less than half the size of even the smallest thrushes, although they do look like miniature thrushes.

      January 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm

  9. As if birding isn’t difficult enough, someone goes and names a warbler a thrush? LOL 🙂

    I like that 5th photo from the top, it looks like it is giving you the stare down!

    January 20, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    • Thanks Amy! So it goes with bird names, the don’t make any sense far too often.

      January 21, 2015 at 2:43 am