Listen for the beautiful Wood Thrush at dawn and at dusk. Chances are you’ll be able to recognize its song before you ever see the bird, even if they are fairly common in their range.
Wood Thrushes inhabit deciduous forests along the Mississippi and eastward to the Atlantic. They’re seldom seen out in the open, so look for them in deep woods where they forage in the dense understory for caterpillars, beetles, moths and ants by scratching up leaves on the forest floor. Late in summer and in fall, they’ll also eat fruits and berries such as blueberries, holly, dogwood, black cherry, and black gum among others.
The thrushes are a large family that include robins, bluebirds and veerys. All are lovely singers and the Wood Thrush is no exception. Enjoy its beautiful song here: Wood Thrush song.
Migrating to Central America in the fall, Wood Thrushes return to their breeding grounds in the U.S. where the female builds an open-cupped nest low to the ground in a shady spot, most often near water. Sometimes the nest can be found low in the crotch of a tree or even stuck against the side of a trunk with mud. The female will lay three to four blue-green eggs. When the nestlings hatch, they’ll be fed insects and occasionally berries.
Unfortunately, although they are one of the most common woodland species, Wood Thrushes are on the Audubon Watch List due to their slow decline since the 1960’s. One reason is that
Brown-headed Cowbirds frequently use Wood Thrush nests to lay their eggs, causing the Wood Thrushes to raise the cowbird’s young over their own. Another reason is forest fragmentation both in the U.S. and in the Central American lowlands where they winter. However, efforts are being made to study the bird and for now these birds are still abundant.
Try to remember the Wood Thrush’s song and perhaps one evening you’ll be lucky to hear it, or even to see this beautiful bird!