Louisiana Waterthrush

Parkesia motacilla

It can be a tricky proposition to differentiate in the field, the Louisiana Waterthrush from the Northern Waterthrush. The three keys I’ve learned to help with the dilemma are:

  • Leg color
    • The Louisiana Waterthrush’s legs are pinkish.
    • The Northern Waterthrush’s legs are more brown.
  • Throat color
    • The Louisiana Waterthrush’s throat is white with no stripes.
    • The Northern Waterthrush’s throat is striped.
  • White line over the eye (sometime difficult to assess)
    • The Louisiana Waterthrush’s eyeline is bolder than the Northern Waterthrush and often wider behind the eye.

The Louisiana Waterthrush breeds across most of the eastern USA, but spends winters in Mexico, Central America, northern South America and in the Caribbean. Modern science considers the Louisiana Waterthrush as monotypic (no subspecies recognised).

My first encounter with a Louisiana Waterthrush occurred on March 21st (2021) at Resaca de la Palma State Park (Texas). I stationed myself at a remote area on the reserve called Hunter’s Lane. Had it not been for the sharp eyes of another birder, I might have missed the bird.

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