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Louisiana waterthrush

Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) Photo © Mary Kay Rubey

Features and Behaviors

An adult Louisiana waterthrush is five to six inches in length. The male and female are similar in appearance. The back feathers are brown while the belly has white feathers with brown speckles. There is a white stripe on each side of the face, and the throat feathers are white. Its bill is short, thin and pointed. The legs are orange.

The Louisiana waterthrush is a common migrant and summer resident in southern Illinois. It may be found in the rest of the state but not as frequently. It winters from the southern United States to northern South America. The Louisiana waterthrush lives along fast-running streams and creeks, in ravines and in swamps. It eats a variety of insects. Spring migrants begin arriving in Illinois in March. The nesting season occurs from May through June. This bird nests in tree roots or in cracks in rocks near flowing water. Four to six white eggs speckled with red-brown are laid. Cowbirds are known to parasitize Louisiana waterthrush nests, leaving an egg that will hatch into a cowbird that the waterthrushes will feed and care for. This bird leaves Illinois in late July or early August.

Illinois Range


​Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Parulidae

Illinois Status: common, native