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A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

A land manager's guide to conserving habitat for forest birds in ...

Louisiana Waterthrush

Louisiana Waterthrush Parkesia motacilla Louisiana Waterthrush adult with Brown-headed Cowbird Nestlings — Photo: Michael Patrikeev Identification (14 centimetres) The Louisiana Waterthrush is a southern species found in steep, forested ravines with fast-flowing streams. Both sexes are brown above with prominent white eye stripes, white below, and have pink legs. Waterthrushes flick their tail in a bobbing motion when they walk. Despite being drab in appearance, this species sings a loud ringing song with clear whistles and complex jumbled phrases. Conservation Status The Louisiana Waterthrush is rare in Canada and is designated as a species of special concern. Populations have remained relatively stable across its range, with an estimated 105 to 195 pairs breeding in Ontario. It is common nowhere, and largely restricted to the Carolinian region in Elgin, Oxford, Middlesex, and Norfolk counties. Breeding Biology The Louisiana Waterthrush breeds from southeastern Minnesota eastward to southern Maine, and southward to eastern Texas and northern Florida. It prefers deep ravines and pristine headwater streams surrounded by mature deciduous/mixed forests (particularly where hemlock is present). In Ontario, birds breed from early May to early July, lay five white eggs with reddishbrown speckling, and raise a single brood. Nests are concealed in crevices along a stream bank, in upturned roots, or in and under mossy logs and stumps. Diet Louisiana Waterthrushes forage on and near the ground, picking at the substrate, pulling up submerged leaves, catching flying insects, and gleaning insects off vegetation. They feed mainly on aquatic invertebrates, but also eat other insects, arthropods, earthworms, and occasionally small frogs and fish. Management Guidelines The Louisiana Waterthrush is an area-sensitive species that requires large contiguous tracts of mature or late-successional forests with shady riparian or stream habitats. Given its rarity, care should be taken to retain high basal area, and refrain from logging activities that increase siltation and temperature of streams wherever this species is found. How to Find The best time to spot the Louisiana Waterthrush is early in spring when their loud musical song can be heard from a long distance away. Look for a bird foraging at the water’s edge, bobbing its tail constantly. Did you know? • Its habit of wagging its tail is so pronounced that both the genus and species name mean “tail-wagger.” • It is very similar in appearance to the Northern Waterthrush. However, Northerns usually have stripes on their throat, a thinner, buffier white eyestripe that does not extend as far back onto the nape, and more yellowish wash on the underparts. • This species will sometimes build a walkway of leaves up to the nest. 128 Bird Species Accounts

Hooded Warbler Wilsonia citrina Female Hooded Warbler — Photo: Greg Lavaty the leaf surface. Females, in particular, tend to feed low in the vegetation, while males are apt to forage at heights from 10 to18 metres. Male Hooded Warbler — Photo: Greg Lavaty Identification (13–14 centimetres) This handsome warbler breeds in mature eastern hardwoods with a dense understorey. The Hooded Warbler’s loud, emphatic song, “ta-wit ta-wit ta-wit tee-yo” is typically heard before the bird is seen. Males don a jet black hood and throat, which is contrasted by a bright yellow forehead, cheeks, and belly. Their back is olivegreen. Females are similar, but vary in the extent of black on the hood and bib. Some have little or no black, while others, particularly old females may have a hood pattern similar to the male (although never as complete). Conservation Status In Canada, the Hooded Warbler is restricted to southern Ontario. Its breeding range extends south through the eastern United States, down to Florida. The Ontario population is designated as Threatened, though its numbers have grown in size and distribution over the last 20 years. The historic breeding range has expanded from Norfolk County to include the Lake Simcoe-Rideau region and southern shield, presumably owing to an influx of migrants from bordering states. Overall, the Hooded Warbler is an area-sensitive species dependent on small-scale disturbance but sensitive to forest loss and fragmentation. Breeding Biology The Hooded Warbler is a Neotropical migrant typically found in the interiors of large upland tracts of mature deciduous and mixed forest, and in ravines where small openings in the forest canopy have permitted a dense growth of low understorey shrubs. In Ontario, it breeds from mid-May to mid-August, often producing two broods per season. “Hoodies” nest low in a sapling or shrub (often raspberry) in small bulky cup nests frequently wrapped in dead leaves. Nests contain three to five white eggs speckled with brown and are readily parasitized by cowbirds. Diet Hooded Warblers feed primarily on caterpillars, moths, grasshoppers and flies by hawking, hovering, and gleaning from Management Guidelines Hooded Warblers colonize forest gaps one to five years after creation, and remain as long as suitable shrubby nesting habitat exists. Hence, both single-tree and group selection in large, mature forests will benefit this species by promoting dense understory and shrub growth. Managed mature conifer plantations with canopy gaps containing low, deciduous understory species will also be occupied. Despite their dependence on disturbance, they only require small gaps, and in fact nest more successfully in natural tree fall gaps than those created through intensive forestry. As such, emphasis should be placed on conserving large, mature tracts of forest in an effort to remediate the historical loss and fragmentation in southern Ontario. Since Hooded Warblers are area-sensitive, efforts to enlarge or reconnect existing woodlands will further increase populations and assist in range expansion. How to find The best way to spot a Hooded Warbler is to listen for its explosive song and search for the striking male singing mid-canopy from a perch. Also look for flashes of white, since both sexes tail-fan frequently while foraging or moving about their territory. Did you know? Photo: Lucas Foerster • Hooded Warblers frequently flick and spread theirs tails while feeding, exposing their large white tail spots. • They are territorial on their wintering grounds. Males and females use different wintering habitats: males in mature forest, and females in scrubbier forest. If a male is removed, a female in adjacent scrub will not move into the male’s territory. Bird Species Accounts 129

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