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Overview

Brief Summary

Parkesia motacilla

A large (6 inches) wood warbler, the Louisiana Waterthrush is most easily identified by its brown back and wings, whitish breast streaked with brown, and conspicuous white eye stripe. This species is physically similar to the related Northern Waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis), although that species is typically darker yellow and more streaked below and on the face. Male and female Louisiana Waterthrushes are similar to one another in all seasons. The Louisiana Waterthrush breeds across the eastern United States and southern Canada, being more or less absent from the southeastern coastal plain, upper New England, and parts of the Midwest. In winter, this species is found in the southern half of Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Many birds fly across the Gulf of Mexico twice a year while on migration. Louisiana Waterthrushes breed in a variety of woodland habitats along the edges of streams and creeks. In winter, this species is found in similar streamside areas in humid tropical forests. Unusually for a warbler, Louisiana Waterthrushes primarily eat aquatic invertebrates, including insects and larvae. Along streams in appropriate habitat, Louisiana Waterthrushes may be seen walking on the shoreline or wading in shallow water while foraging for food. This species’ characteristic tail wagging behavior, in which the rear half of the body is flicked up and down almost constantly while the bird is in motion, is highly unusual among wood warblers. Louisiana Waterthrushes are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

Threat Status: Least concern

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Distribution

occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Breeding

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Global Range: BREEDING: eastern Nebraska, southern Great Lakes region (including southern Ontario and perhaps rarely in southwestern Quebec), and New England south to eastern Texas, Gulf states, northern Florida, and South Carolina (Robinson 1995, AOU 1998). NON-BREEDING: southern Sonora, southern Nuevo Leon, and southwestern Tamaulipas south through Mexico (generally absent from Yucatan peninsula) and Central America into northern and western Colombia and northwestern Venezuela; also from southern Florida and Bahamas throughout West Indies (fairly common in Puerto Rico, uncommon in Virgin Islands) (Robinson 1995, AOU 1998)

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Range

E US; winters s Florida to nw South America and West Indies.

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Physical Description

Size

Length: 15 cm

Weight: 21 grams

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Ecology

Habitat

Comments: BREEDING: Moist forest, woodland, and ravines along streams; mature deciduous and mixed floodplain and swamp forests. Prefers areas with moderate to sparse undergrowth (Prosser and Brooks 1998) near rapid-flowing water of hill and mountain streams. Ground dweller. Nests on the ground along stream banks, hidden in the underbrush or among the roots of fallen trees, in crevices or raised sites in tree roots, or in rock walls of ravines over water (Harrison 1978, Bushman and Therres 1988).

NON-BREEDING: In migration and winter also in riparian woodland, scrub and thickets, generally near running water; avoids extensive openings and still water (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Habitat and Ecology

Systems
  • Terrestrial
  • Freshwater
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Migration

Non-Migrant: No. All populations of this species make significant seasonal migrations.

Locally Migrant: No. No populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).

Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.

Arrives in Puerto Rico in September (some birds as early as August), remains through April-May (Raffaele 1983). Arrives in Costa Rica early to mid-August, departs by mid-April (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

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Trophic Strategy

Comments: Eats primarily aquatic insects, also small mollusks, killifishes, minnows (Terres 1980), and salamanders (Mulvihill et al. 1999). Forages mostly on or near the ground along streams or in damp or wet stream beds. NON-BREEDING: In Jamaica, feeds while standing on rocks beside or in water. In lowlands, confined to rocks near running water; at higher elevations, may forage also on mud and beside standing water (Lack 1976). In Trinidad, forages on mud among mangroves, on floor of dry lowland forest, and beside rocky streams in montane forest (Lack 1976).

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Associations

Known predators

Seiurus motacilla is prey of:
Accipiter striatus
Diptera
Secernentia nematodes

Based on studies in:
Puerto Rico, El Verde (Rainforest)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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Known prey organisms

  • Waide RB, Reagan WB (eds) (1996) The food web of a tropical rainforest. University of Chicago Press, Chicago
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General Ecology

Maintains foraging territory in winter (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Rappole and Warner 1980). In Mexico, commonly returns to the same winter territory in successive years (Rappole and Warner 1980).

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Life History and Behavior

Life Expectancy

Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

Maximum longevity: 11.9 years (wild)
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Reproduction

Clutch size is four-six (usually five). Incubation by female lasts 14-16 days; sometimes less than 14 days (Robinson 1995). Young are tended by both parents, leave nest at about ten days, can fly at six days after leaving nest, begin feeding on own at about seven days after leaving nest. One brood per year. Breeds earlier in year than most other warblers (April-June) (Robinson 1995).

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Seiurus motacilla

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 3 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNTAAGCCTCCTCATCCGAGCAGAACTAGGCCAACCCGGAGCTCTCCTGGGAGACGACCAAGTCTACAACGTTGTTGTCACGGCCCATGCCTTCGTAATAATTTTCTTTATAGTCATACCGATTATAATCGGAGGGTTCGGAAACTGACTAGTCCCTTTAATAATCGGAGCCCCAGACATAGCATTCCCACGAATAAACAACATAAGCTTCTGACTACTACCACCATCATTCCTTCTCCTCCTAGCTTCCTCCACAGTCGAAGCAGGCGTTGGCACAGGATGAACAGTGTACCCCCCACTAGCTGGCAACCTAGCCCATGCCGGAGCCTCAGTCGACCTCGCAATCTTCTCCCTACACCTGGCTGGTATCTCCTCAATCCTAGGAGCGATTAACTTCATCACAACAGCAATCAACATGAAACCTCCCGCCCTCTCACAATACCAAACCCCCCTATTCGTTTGATCAGTCCTAATCACTGCAGTCCTACTACTACTATCTCTCCCAGTCCTAGCCGCAGGAATCACAATGCTTCTCACAGACCGAAACCTCAACACCACATTCTTCGACCCAGCCGGAGGAGGAGACCCAGTCCTATATCAACACCTANNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Seiurus motacilla

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N3B - Vulnerable

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5B - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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IUCN Red List Assessment


Red List Category
LC
Least Concern

Red List Criteria

Version
3.1

Year Assessed
2012

Assessor/s
BirdLife International

Reviewer/s
Butchart, S. & Symes, A.

Contributor/s

Justification
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
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Population

Population Trend
Increasing
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Threats

Comments: Potential threats include forest fragmentation and activities that cause reductions in forest canopy cover or negatively impact aquatic insect communities. In Western Pennsylvania and throughout the Appalachian region, streams are affected by acid precipitation and acid discharge from countless mines (Mulvihill et al. 1997). The low pH reduces food availability.

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Management

Restoration Potential: Local declines not statistically significant, and expansion of northern range limit suggest no immediate need for restoration.

Preserve Selection and Design Considerations: Essential habitat includes large (probably greater than 100 hectares) tracts of mature, deciduous and deciduous-mixed forest along ravines with running water; secondary habitat is characterized by mature, deciduous swamp forest with standing pools of water; generally a forest interior species (McCraken 1991). Headwater streams and wetlands of high water quality and well developed pool and riffle complexes are important (Prosser and Brooks 1998). Fallen trees with exposed root masses and riparian banks with abundant crevices are preferred nest sites. Species often absent in highly fragmented landscapes, and where sediments from agricultural and urban landscapes have negatively affected water quality and stream substrates. Surdick (1995) found that most foraging sites had close to three times more surface area of exposed rock than the territory average. In northeastern U.S. where range overlaps with northern waterthrush (SEIURUS NOVEBORACENSIS), tends to select sites with faster flowing water (Craig 1981, 1985). Also breeds in cypress swamps and bottomland forest along mud-bottomed streams, but in lower densities than upland forest (Graber et al. 1983).

Management Requirements: Wooded streambanks and ravines should be protected. Maintain areas of thicker cover well away from the stream (more than 50 meters) for use during the post-fledging stage (Mulvihill, pers. comm.).

Management Research Needs: Little information is currently available on habitat use, behavior, and population ecology in the wintering range. Population and migration ecology and effects of brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER) parasitism also need to be further studied (Robinson 1995).

Biological Research Needs: May be a good candidate for conceptual studies. Stream-dwelling populations have long, linear territories that may help elucidate central place foraging theory (Orians and Pearson 1979). In southern Illinois, nests are often placed far from main foraging areas, suggesting that avoidance of predation may be more important than foraging economics in determining nest-site selection (Robinson 1995). Also, it is an excellent indicator of healthy forested riparian ecosystems in the eastern U.S. (D. Prosser et al., unpubl. data). Being a top predator and the only obligate avian species of this ecosystem, it is an ideal calibrator for an index of headwater ecosystems (Brooks et al. 1998).

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Risks

Stewardship Overview: Fairly common resident of headwater riparian woodlands, rocky streams, swamps and scrub, thickets and ravines near streams in much of the eastern and mid-western U.S., less common in the Gulf Coastal Plain, somewhat rare in southern Georgia and Florida. Main threats are loss and degradation of headwater riparian habitat, due to agriculture, logging, acid pollution (acid mine drainage and/or acid deposition, especially in the central Appalachians), and urbanization. Frequent brown-headed cowbird (MOLOTHRUS ATER) host in some regions, but rarely parasitized (less than 10 percent of nests) in Pennsylvania based on recent studies (Mulvihill et al. 1997; Mulvihill, pers. comm.). Management should focus on protecting core wooded riparian habitat, including establishment or maintenance of a buffer strip of undisturbed riparian forest cover at least 100 meters wide (50 meters each side), and preservation and improvement of water quality to ensure aquatic insect biomass and diversity.

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Wikipedia

Louisiana waterthrush

The Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla[2]) is a New World warbler.

Range[edit]

It breeds in eastern North America from southernmost Canada and south through the eastern USA, excluding Florida and the coast. The Louisiana waterthrush is migratory, wintering in Central America and the West Indies. This is a rare vagrant to the western USA. They are one of the earlier neotropical migrants to return to their breeding grounds in the spring, often completing their migration in late March or early April, which is almost two months before most other warblers reach their breeding grounds. They are also one of the earliest warblers to vacate their breeding grounds in fall, usually departing in early August.

Description[edit]

The Louisiana waterthrush has a plain brown back and white underparts streaked with black. The flanks and undertail are buff. There is a strong white flared supercilium, and the legs are bright pink. All plumages are similar, but young birds have buff underparts rather than white. The main confusion species is the closely related northern waterthrush (Parkesia noveboracensis[2]), which has white flanks and undertail, a striped throat, a slightly smaller bill, a shorter supercilium and duller pink legs.

In a study of the two waterthrushes in Connecticut nesting grounds, the Louisiana waterthrush, at an average of 20.6 g (0.73 oz), was rather larger than the Northern, at an average of 16.2 g (0.57 oz).[3] The Louisiana waterthrush is one of the largest species of wood warbler, with only the aberrant yellow-breasted chat averaging larger in mean mass and linear measurements. It measures 14–17 cm (5.5–6.7 in) in length and spanning 21–25.4 cm (8.3–10.0 in) across the wings.[4][5] The weight of adult birds can vary from 17.4 to 28 g (0.61 to 0.99 oz). Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 7.4 to 8.5 cm (2.9 to 3.3 in), the tail 4.4 to 5.4 cm (1.7 to 2.1 in), the bill is 1.2 to 1.5 cm (0.47 to 0.59 in) and the tarsus is 2 to 2.3 cm (0.79 to 0.91 in).[6]

The male's song is a musical, distinctive series of descending notes followed by a warble. The pitch of the beginning notes of the Louisiana's song usually descend, just as does the hilly stream that is its preferred habitat, whereas in the northern waterthrush the song does not vary in pitch as much. The call is a hard chink.

At Brighton Dam in Maryland, USA

Ecology[edit]

The male Louisiana waterthrush does not sing on its wintering grounds before it leaves. It sings immediately when it arrives on its breeding territory. Whether it begins singing during migration is not known. When establishing his territory, a male sings vigorously nearly all day. After he acquires a mate, singing decreases quickly and he concentrates his singing into the morning hours. The breeding habitat is wet woodlands near running water and does not occur outside such areas as a breeder. However, during winter, the Louisiana waterthrush mainly forages along flooded roads or trails, and in parks, lawns and gardens, rarely entering true forest, even forested wetlands, in the subtropics.[7] The northern waterthrush prefers stagnant, swampy waters and is generally a more terrestrial forager. Louisiana waterthrushes prefer dense vegetation along the water's edge for nesting, since this provides the main protection of nest from predation. Louisiana waterthrushes nest in a rock crevice, mud bank or amongst tree roots, laying 4–6 eggs in a cup nest from late May to mid-June. Both parents construct the nest, which is built from wet, muddy leaves, pine needles, grass, and small twigs. The female Louisiana waterthrush incubates the eggs for 12 or 13 days. The fledging period lasts for 9 or 10 days, with both adults feeding the young for a further 4 weeks.[8]

They are one of a few passerine species that does most of its foraging in actively running water, which only the dippers are known for at the family level. Mostly they depend on aquatic insects, molluscs, and crustaceans. Occasionally ground-based insects, such as beetles and ants are taken, as well as flying insects, such as flies, which may be hawked on the wing. Alternately, they forage amongst the leaf litter. In circumstances where the insect prey is low, Louisiana waterthrushes can target prey as large as salamanders and small fish.[9]

Status[edit]

Less common and widespread today than it was two centuries ago, the Louisiana waterthrush's decline is mainly due to the reduction of suitable habitat, through clearing and channelization of streams, as well as pollution, and the impounding of rivers and streams to create reservoirs.[10] Additionally, because the Louisiana waterthrush is dependent on large areas of continuous forest, this species is likely to be threatened by increasing forest fragmentation. Timber harvesting, agriculture, urban development and gas drilling may further reduce the available habitat for this species.[7] The population seems be quite extremely sensitive to changes in habitat quality and quantity. Threats to the Canadian population of this species include reduced insect prey and reductions in water supply due to agricultural drainage, excessive irrigation and climate change, as well as logging and habitat fragmentation.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Parkesia motacilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b R. Terry Chesser, Richard C. Banks, F. Keith Barker, Carla Cicero, Jon L. Dunn, Andrew W. Kratter, Kirby J. Lovette, Pamela C. Ramussen, J. V. Remsen, Jr., James D. Rising, Douglas F. Stotz, and Kevin Winker (2010). "Fifty-First Supplement to the American Ornithologists' Union Check-List of North American Birds". The Auk 127 (3): 726–744. doi:10.1525/auk.2010.127.4.966. 
  3. ^ Robert J. Craig (1985). "Comparative Habitat Use by Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes". The Wilson Bulletin 97 (3): 347–355. JSTOR 4162107. 
  4. ^ Seiurus motacilla (Louisiana waterthrush) – MNFI Rare Species Explorer. Mnfi.anr.msu.edu (2012-03-15). Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  5. ^ Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla. eNature. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  6. ^ Jon Curson, David Quinn and David Beadle. 1994. New World Warblers: An Identification Guide, ISBN 0-7136-3932-6.
  7. ^ a b Mattsson, B.J., Master, T.L., Mulvihill, R.S., Robinson, W.D. (2009) Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla). In: Poole, A. (Ed.) The Birds of North America Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca.
  8. ^ Eastman, J. (1999) Birds of the Lake, Pond and Marsh. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania ISBN 0811726819.
  9. ^ Dr. Terry Master. Esu.edu. Retrieved on 2012-08-24.
  10. ^ Palmer-Ball Jr., B. (1996) The Kentucky Breeding Bird Atlas. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky ISBN 0813119650.
  11. ^ COSEWIC. (2006) COSEWIC assessment and update status report on the Louisiana waterthrush Seiurus motacilla in Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa, Canada ISBN 0-662-43278-9.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Formerly (AOU 1983, 1998) placed in the genus Seiurus; transferred to Parkesia by AOU (2010).

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