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Wood Thrush

Hylocichla mustelina

Length: 8 inches Wingspan: 13.5 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: White underparts with round spots, brown upperparts, white eyering around large dark eye, reddish brown nape and crown

Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelinaWood Thrushes are probably best known for their clear fluty calls heard from the early spring through the summer. They are primarily found in deciduous forests, but are less shy than some of the thrushes and can also be found in residential areas, provided there are enough large trees.  Numbers have seriously declined in recent decades (see status notes below).

Habitat: Primarily found in the undergrowth of deciduous forests, but also sometimes in mixed coniferous and deciduous forest.  Found more often in lowland forests near water than in dryer upland forests.

Diet: Insects, fruits, and berries.  Also will feed on spiders, snails, and earthworms.  

Behavior: Does most of its foraging down on the ground, but will also forage for fruits and berries up in trees and shrubs.

Nesting: June and July

Song: Wood Thrush Song, also Wood Thrush Call

Migration: Summers throughout most of the eastern half of the United States.  Winters in Central America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Wood Thrush sightings

Similar Species: Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Veery

Conservation Status: Populations have shown sharp declines in recent decades.  Wood Thrushes are common Brown-headed Cowbird hosts, and in many areas, Wood Thrushes end up raising more Cowbirds than they do their own species.  Habitat fragmentation has probably played a very significant role in this decline.  As forests become more fragmented, Cowbirds, which don't inhabit dense forest, have greater access to forests because of increased forest edges.  This provides them with greater access to Wood Thrush nests. Given relatively sharp population declines in recent years, the IUCN considers the Wood Thrush to be a "Near Threatened" species.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Wood Thrush

2) WhatBird - Wood Thrush

3) Audubon Guide - Wood Thrush

Photo Information: May 12th, 2006 - Butler County, Pennsylvania - Jake Dingel

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Wood Thrush photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Wood Thrush - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer breeding resident in the southeastern part of the state.  Rare migrant elsewhere in the east, accidental in the west.

Additional Wood Thrush Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos 
Wood Thrush - Hylocichla mustelina