Bird of the Week, June 8, 2012
Wood Thrush


Wood Thrush by Greg Homel


The Wood Thrush’s haunting, flutelike song is a familiar summer sound throughout eastern forests. This large, spot-breasted thrush feeds on the forest floor, mainly on invertebrates and fruit from shrubs.


Wood Thrush population surveys from 1966 to 2009 show a continent-wide decline of almost 2% per year, suggesting an overall population decrease of some 50% in that period.


The destruction and fragmentation of forests are major factors in this decline. Although Wood Thrushes will nest in suburban areas, they have reduced breeding success in these smaller forest patches due to cowbird parasitism and nest predation from species such as jays, crows, raccoons, and domestic cats.


The loss of lowland tropical forests has reduced wintering habitat as well, although bird-friendly shade-grown coffee has been shown to provide some habitat for wintering Wood Thrushes.


Studies show that acid rain due to coal-burning power plants affects Wood Thrush breeding success by reducing soil calcium needed by their prey. Energy conservation, better use of renewable energy sources, and adoption of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technology will help reduce acid rain, benefiting the Wood Thrush and other biodiversity.




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Photo: Greg Homel; Range Map, NatureServe