Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Northern Waterthrush

Seiurus noveboracensis

Length: 5.5 to 6 inches Wingspan: 9 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Strong streaking on breast and sides, white to light yellow eyebrow, brownish back. 

Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensisA shy bird normally found in thickets around streams and ponds, the Northern Waterthrush can often be seen bobbing its hindquarters up and down as it searches for food.  One of the earliest fall migrants, they start their southward movements as early as the middle of July.

Habitat: Can appear in nearly any habitat during migration through the state, but is most often found in woods and thickets around water bodies.  Generally breeds in forested wetlands (out-of-state).

Diet: Primarily insects.  Will also eat crustaceans, mollusks, slugs, and small fish.

Behavior: Usually close to water habitats, foraging on the ground as well as in shallow water for insects and other prey items. 

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota. On breeding grounds, the nest is a open cup of leaves, mosses, twigs, and bark, placed in a protected area such as in a stump or in an area protected by tree roots.  The female lays 4 or 5 eggs, with the female alone incubating them.  Upon hatching, both parents feed the young, which leave the nest after about 10 days.

Song: Northern Waterthrush song, also Northern Waterthrush call

Migration: Summers throughout Canada and the northern and northeastern United States. Winters in Florida, Mexico, and points south.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Northern Waterthrush sightings

Similar Species: Louisiana Waterthrush, Ovenbird

Conservation Status: Numbers appear to be stable, they are common in many parts of their normal range, and they are found over a wide geographic range. The IUCN lists the Northern Waterthrush as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Northern Waterthrush

2) WhatBird - Northern Waterthrush

3) Audubon Guide - Northern Waterthrush

Image Information: Photo taken on September 2nd, 2012 - Minnehaha County, South Dakota - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Northern Waterthrush - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant.

Additional Northern Waterthrush Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Northern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensisNorthern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensisNorthern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensisNorthern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensisNorthern Waterthrush - Seiurus noveboracensis