Each year Wake Audubon chooses a bird on which to focus. The species is always one that is found in Wake County and a bird that is under pressure from climate change, development and/or loss of habitat. We learn about the species through articles in our newsletter, lectures, and field trips.
The Wood Thrush, Hylocichla mustelina, visits most of North Carolina every summer. The Wood Thrush is a member of the thrush family (Turdidae) which includes the American Robin, the Eastern Bluebird, and other thrushes. Wood Thrushes are about the same size as last year’s bird of the year, the Eastern Towhee. The have a warm brown upper body and dark spots on the breast and the sides of the belly, which is creamy white. Sexes are similar. Wood Thrushes are usually found on the ground, scratching at leave litter to expose insects and spiders, which make up most of their diet. In the fall, prior to migrating back to Central America for the winter, they also fill up on fruits such as dogwood, pokeweed, and holly berries. Wood Thrushes have a beautiful song, which is sung by the male, mornings and evenings. Go here for a recording of the song.
Wood Thrushes arrive in North Carolina in April, with the male establishing territory. The female Wood Thrush builds the nest in the fork of a deciduous tree and lays 3-4 greenish blue eggs. She incubates the eggs for about 2 weeks. Both parents feed the young until they leave the nest in another 2 weeks. The pair usually build a second nest and raise a second brood.
Native trees and shrubs provide the habitat Wood Thrushes need for shelter and raising their young. Leaf litter holds many of the insects they need for their diet, and native berry-producing plants are important, especially as these birds fuel up for their migration. Buying shade-grown coffee from Central America is another way to support the winter habitat needed by the Wood Thrush.
Bird of the Year Archives