Wood Thrush

The Wood Thrush is the thrush species most associated with Maine’s
deciduous forests. It prefers shady deciduous and mixed forests with a shrubby understory, moist soil, and dense leaf litter. It is a rich, red-brown above and has a plump,
white belly covered with bold, dark spots. Like its fellow thrushes, this bird sings an
ethereal song in the early mornings around dawn and in the evening around sunset.
Its song has been described as flutelike and variable with 2 to 10 notes. Males arrive
before females to establish and defend territories through vigorous singing and dis-
plays such as wing-flicking and crest raising. In rare occasions, territorial defense may include physical contact between males. Nests are constructed low in trees or shrubs by the female with occasional support from the male. Agitated birds will give a “pit-pit-pit” if you wander too near their nesting site. Nestlings are fed insects and fruits by the male and occasionally the female. Young birds continue to be cared for by both parents after leaving the nest until the female leaves to initiate a second brood after about two weeks. Wood Thrush are highly vulnerable to Brown-headed Cowbird parasitism.

Safe Dates: June 1st to August 1st (applicable for only the S or H codes).


Breeding Evidence: If you hear a Wood Thrush singing its ethereal song within the safe dates, use code S. The simplest way to upgrade this to a “Probable Breeder” is to listen for singing again at the same location 7 or more days later to upgrade the code to S7. For silently perched or calling (a repeated “bup-bup”) Wood Thrush, use code H. If you observe agitated behavior such as crest-raising or agitated calling (“pit-pit-pit”), use code A. If a pair are observed together and interacting prior to nesting, use code P. For birds observed carrying food (fruit or soft-bodies insects), use code CF. If a nest with young is observed or heard (young give a at “chip” call), code use NY, but note that we strongly discourage closely approaching or disturbing nesting birds.

Image courtesy of Logan Parker. 

Audio courtesy of Scott Gravette.

© 2019 Logan Parker

The Maine Nightjar Monitoring Project is a part of the Maine Natural History Observatory