Bird of the Week: Wood Thrush

Ten Facts About Wood Thrush

1. The Wood Thrush is the official bird of Washington D.C.

2. The flute-like song of the Wood Thrush is widely considered to be the most beautiful of all North American songbirds.

3. Wood Thrush are able sing two notes at one time. Their songs tend to be elaborate early in the breeding season, while the singing is most intense before sunrise and at sunset.

4. Wood Thrush prefer moist deciduous forest habitat, unfortunately forest fragmentation has resulted in a decline in the population of Wood Thrush.

5. The Wood Thrush has been sighted twice in Europe (well outside its range) – once in Iceland (1967) and once in England (1987).

Wood Thrush eating Spicebush Berry

Wood Thrush eating Spicebush berry

6. Wood Thrush primarily forage for food on the forest floor, often turning over leaves to look for insects. In late summer and early fall they eat a lot of berries – Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin) is a favorite.

7. Like the Kirtland’s Warbler, Wood Thrush nests are often victimized by Brown Headed Cowbird parasitism.

8. According to All About Birds, Wood Thrush sometimes engage in extra pair copulation (aka as “fooling around”), there is speculation that in some cases “as many as 40% of a female’s young are not fathered by its mate.”

9. Wood Thrush are members of the same family (Thrush) as the American Robin, Eastern Bluebird, and Veery (another renowned songster).

10. The Wood Thrush was a favorite of two of the most prominent naturalists in American history; essayist Henry David Thoreau and ornithologist and artist John James Audubon:

  • The thrush alone declares the immortal wealth and vigor that is in the forest. Here is a bird in whose strain the story is told…Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her spring; whenever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of heaven are not shut against him.Henry David Thoreau’s Journal April 27, 1854
  • The strains of the aeolian harp and of the wood thrush are the truest and loftiest preachers that I know left on this earth. - The Writings of Henry David Thoreau 1837-1846
  • the wood thrush, the genius of the wood, whistles for the first time his clear and thrilling strain, - its sounds as it did the first time I heard it. - The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Volume 8
  • There is a sweet wild world which lies along the strain of the Wood Thrush – the rich intervals which border the stream of its song – more thoroughly genial to my nature than any other. - The Writings of Henry David Thoreau, Volume 8
  • I long for wildness, a nature which I cannot put my foot through, woods where the wood thrush forever sings, where the hours are early morning ones, and there is dew on the grass, and the day is forever unproved, where I might have a fertile unknown for a soil about me. Henry David Thoreau’s Journal June 22, 1853
  • In the woods of America I have never been in such silence; for in the most retired places I have had the gentle murmuring streamlet, or the sound of the Woodpecker tapping, or the sweet melodious strains of that lovely recluse, my greatest favorite, the Wood-Thrush. – Audubon’s Journal Volume I