The Wood Thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) is a North American passerine bird. It is closely related to other thrushes such as the American Robin and is widely distributed across North America, wintering in Central America and southern Mexico. The Wood Thrush is the official bird of the District of Columbia.
The Wood Thrush is a medium-sized thrush, with brown upper parts with mottled brown and white underparts. The male and female are similar in appearance. The song of the male is often cited as being the most beautiful in North America. [Wikipedia]
The Wood Thrush’s loud, flute-clear ee-oh-lay song rings through the deciduous forests of the eastern U.S. in summer. This reclusive bird’s cinnamon brown upperparts are good camouflage as it scrabbles for leaf-litter invertebrates deep in the forest, though it pops upright frequently to peer about, revealing a boldly spotted white breast. Though still numerous, its rapidly declining numbers may be due in part to cowbird nest parasitism at the edges of fragmenting habitat and to acid rain’s depletion of its invertebrate prey. [All About Birds]
Wood Thrush Facts [All About Birds]
- A songbird like the Wood Thrush requires 10 to 15 times as much calcium to lay a clutch of eggs as a similar size mammal needs to nurture its young. That makes calcium-rich food supplements like snail shells crucial to successful breeding. These are rare in soils subject to acid rain, which may help explain patterns of population decline in the Wood Thrush.
- Wood Thrushes are vulnerable to nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds, which lay their eggs in other birds’ nests. Some species refuse to raise these eggs, but Wood Thrushes accept them as their own. In some Midwest forest edge habitats, virtually every Wood Thrush nest contains at least one cowbird egg.
- The Wood Thrush is a consummate songster, and it can sing “internal duets” with itself. In the final trilling phrase of its three-part song, it sings pairs of notes simultaneously, one in each branch of its y-shaped syrinx, or voicebox. The two parts harmonize with each other to produce a haunting, ventriloquial sound.
- The oldest known Wood Thrush was a male and at least 10 years, 2 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Connecticut in 2010. He had been banded in the same state in 2002.