Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla)

My morning began with excitement when I watched a Louisiana Waterthrush belting out its song along the creek corridor at Franklin Pond in Cold Spring Harbor. I have been routinely checking this site for the past week and half on my way to and from work and my time has finally paid off. There's definitely a bit of luck involved when it comes to finding birds but knowing and reading your habitat is a big advantage when it comes to being a successful bird watcher.

Franklin Pond is part of the Cold Spring Harbor watershed. It is situated above (south of) St. John's Pond where the two are connected by a small freshwater stream. Water exits Franklin Pond by means of a spillway, runs into the stream and eventually makes its way into St. John's Pond. The understory vegetation consists of skunk cabbage, canada mayflower, american beech tree and other hardwood saplings. Moss covered snags and rocks line the stream bank making this a perfect recipe for suitable Louisiana Waterthrush habitat. According to friend John Taylor, Louisiana Waterthrush have bred in this system a number of years ago. The NYS Breeding Bird Atlas also shows breeding blocks in this area, most likely courtesy of John.

Louisiana Waterthrush                                                                    Derek Rogers
The Louisiana Waterthrush is a warbler species that spends its winters in Central and northern South America. It breeds up in North America primarily in the lower 48 states ranging from north to south but in the eastern half of the states. It is identified from its counterpart, the Northern Waterthrush by its broad, white supercilium that extends and stays broad to the rear of its head. The Louisiana generally has less dense streaking that runs down the breast and flanks. Look for some buff color at the base of the bill as well as along the flanks. Waterthrushes are also known for pumping their tails as they forage and pick for insects along stream beds. Check out this video to see the Louisiana actively pumping its tail while its perched up in the shrubs. I apologize for the poor photos and video but you can get the general idea of the birds identification characteristics. A more crisp video can be viewed on my Flickr site.


  1. Hello, Derek!

    Your flicker site is great. That LA waterthrush video had a surprised ending for me. After reading your profile I understand your a real Long Island Native! My LA thrush nutroll over the years has me near running water for these jaspers just like you. Not many of us left. Post more blogs guy. Great bird posts. Sincerely Gilgo Bob.

    1. Hey Bob,

      Don't get me wrong I am enjoying your posts immensely, but what was the surprise ending in that video for you?

    2. Surely thought it was going to fly.

    3. Fair enough friend. I guess it was a bit jumpy.


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