Saturday, April 16, 2016

Saturday Sightings- The Wood Thrush

Happy Saturday Everyone!

This species of thrush is closely related to other thrushes, including the American robin, and is widely spread across North America.  It spends its winters in Central America and southern Mexico, and feeds on soil invertebrates and larvae, as well as fruits which makes it an omnivore. It finds its food by foraging on the forest floor mainly, flipping over leaves to reveal insects, and fruits are swallowed whole. 

The wood thrush is a solitary, territorial bird with brown upper parts and mottled brown and white underparts, both males and females looking similar.  This species are monogamous breeders and about 50% of all mated pairs are able to raise two broods from 2-4 chicks a season.  Their nests are vulnerable to squirrels, raccoons, blue jays and great horned owls, to name a few, with adults primarily taken by hawks and owls.  Interestingly, the wood thrush has been seen displaying a behaviour known as “anting,” which occurs when a bird picks up a single ant or a group of ants and rubs them on its feathers.  It is not known why this species does this, but it is thought that perhaps it is to get defensive secretions from the ants for medicinal purposes or simply as a part of the birds’ own preen.

Fun fact:  The wood thrush is the official bird of the District of Columbia and the male’s song is often said to be the most beautiful in North America.  The male is able to sing 2 notes at once, which gives it a flute-like quality, with each individual bird has its own repertoire. 

Take care!    

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