Parkesia Motacilla – Louisiana Waterthrush

Parkesia Motacilla - Louisiana Waterthrush found in the US

The Louisiana waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) is a New World warbler found in eastern North America and the West Indies and Central America during the winter. It is plain brown on top and white underneath, with black streaks and buff flanks and undertail, which distinguishes it from the closely related northern waterthrush.

Quick Overview: Parkesia Motacilla – Louisiana Waterthrush
Body size: Around 6 in (15 cm) and a weight of 20 g (0.7 oz)
Main colors: Olive-Brown, White
Range: Northeastern United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Louisiana Waterthrush Description

Ground warbler with dark olive-brown upperparts and highly streaked white underparts with a buff wash on the belly and flanks. Whitethroat; dark and thick eyestripe; white brows spread behind eyes. Bill is lengthy and substantial. Tail is short and pale buff in color, with pale buff under tail coverts.

Parkesia Motacilla - Louisiana Waterthrush found in the US
Parkesia Motacilla – Louisiana Waterthrush. Photo by: Alan Schmierer


These birds have a length of 6 in (15 cm) and a weight of 20 g (0.7 oz). Their wings could range from 9 in (23 cm).


They feed on the adults and larvae or nymphs of caddisflies, mayflies, midges, soldier flies, craneflies, lacewings, stoneflies, butterflies, moths, aphids, dragonflies, damselflies, and beetles (of numerous species), as well as millipedes, woodlice, cicadas, scorpions, spiders, crayfish, earthworms, minnows


Louisiana waterthrushes are nearly entirely restricted to mature riparian woods. The typical habitat is steep-sided valleys with swift-flowing streams with stony stream banks and riffles.


Louisiana waterthrushes exhibit behaviors that are comparable to those of northern waterthrushes. These birds frequently sing from branches or while flying. Both species also have a tendency to bobble their tails in a teetering attitude, particularly when hunting. This is a critical behavioral trait of waterthrushes, as the genus name Seiurus translates as “tail-bobber.” Louisiana waterthrushes stroll rather than hop along the forest floor. They fly quickly, directly, and somewhat undulating, with rapid wing beats.

Parkesia Motacilla Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Parulidae
  • Genus: Parkesia
  • Species: Parkesia motacilla

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Louisiana Waterthrush in the USA

Breeds in the eastern United States, from Minnesota, southern Ontario, and central New England to Texas and Georgia. Winters in the tropics, primarily in coastal Mexico and the West Indies.

The Louisiana Waterthrush can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Parkesia Motacilla – Louisiana Waterthrush

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