Species Profile

Wood Thrush

Scientific Name: Hylocichla mustelina
Taxonomy Group: Birds
Range: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia
Last COSEWIC Assessment: November 2012
Last COSEWIC Designation: Threatened
SARA Status: No schedule, No Status

Individuals of this species may be protected under Schedule 1 under another name; for more information see Schedule 1, the A-Z Species List, or if applicable, the Related Species table below.


Go to advanced search

Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Image of Wood Thrush

Description

The Wood Thrush is a medium-sized Neotropical migrant, slightly smaller than the American Robin. Sexes are similar; adults are generally rusty-brown on the upperparts with white underparts and large blackish spots on the breast and flanks. Juveniles are similar to adults, but have tawny streaks and spots on the back, neck, and wing coverts. Overall, the plumage is quite distinctive and the Wood Thrush is not likely to be confused with other thrush species or the Brown Thrasher. The Wood Thrush has become a symbol of declining Neotropical migrants due to significant declines over much of its range since the late 1970s. (Updated 2017/08/10)

Top

Distribution and Population

The Wood Thrush breeds in southeastern Canada from southern Ontario east to Nova Scotia. It also nests across the eastern United States, south to northern Florida and the Gulf Coast. In the west, it ranges from eastern Texas to southeast South Dakota and west-central Minnesota. Wood Thrushes winter in Central America mainly in lowland and tropical forests along the Atlantic and the Pacific slopes from southern Mexico south to Panama. (Updated 2017/08/10)

Top

Habitat

In Canada, the Wood Thrush nests mainly in second-growth and mature deciduous and mixed forests, with saplings and well-developed understory layers. This species prefers large forest mosaics, but may also nest in small forest fragments. Wintering habitat is characterized primarily by undisturbed to moderately disturbed wet primary lowland forests. (Updated 2017/08/10)

Top

Biology

The Wood Thrush is typically socially monogamous, but does engage in extra-pair matings. In Canada, most breeding adults arrive on the breeding grounds from mid-late May. Nests are located in living saplings, trees or shrubs, usually in Sugar Maple or American Beech. Clutches contain an average of 4 eggs and double brooding is frequent. Incubation lasts 10-12 days; young are tended by both parents and fledge after 12–15 days. Fledglings remain on their natal home range for 24-33 days before departing to the wintering range between mid-August and mid-September. Age of first reproduction for the Wood Thrush is one year. (Updated 2017/08/10)

Top

Threats

Several threats are currently known to affect the Wood Thrush. On the breeding grounds the main threats include habitat degradation and fragmentation due to development and over-browsing by White-tailed Deer. High rates of nest predation and Brown-headed Cowbird nest parasitism associated with habitat fragmentation also threaten the Wood Thrush. On the wintering grounds the main threats are habitat loss and degradation. (Updated 2017/08/10)

Top

Protection

Federal Protection

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

Top

Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

11 record(s) found.

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC Assessment and Status Report on the Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina in Canada (2013)

    The Wood Thrush is a medium-sized Neotropical migrant, slightly smaller than the American Robin. Sexes are similar; adults are generally rusty-brown on the upperparts with white underparts and large blackish spots on the breast and flanks. Juveniles are similar to adults, but have tawny streaks and spots on the back, neck, and wing coverts. Overall, the plumage is quite distinctive and the Wood Thrush is not likely to be confused with other thrush species or the Brown Thrasher. The Wood Thrush has become a symbol of declining Neotropical migrants due to significant declines over much of its range since the late 1970s.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Wood Thrush (2013)

    In Canada, this forest-nesting species has shown significant long and short-term declines in population abundance. The species is threatened by habitat loss on its wintering grounds and habitat fragmentation and degradation on its breeding grounds. It also suffers from high rates of nest predation and cowbird parasitism associated with habitat fragmentation on the breeding grounds.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park of Canada (2016)

    Bruce Peninsula National Park (BPNP) and Fathom Five National Marine Park (FFNMP) lie at the tip of the Bruce Peninsula which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The peninsula is 90 km in length and its most prominent feature is the Niagara Escarpment which runs along the entire eastern edge. Within BPNP, the escarpment forms the Georgian Bay shoreline and is recognized as part of the core area of the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.  BPNP was established by the federal government in 1987 to protect a representative example of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Lowlands natural region. Because of the fragmented nature of the park properties, many of the stresses on the park’s ecosystem originate from outside its boundaries. For this reason, First Nations, local residents, non-governmental organizations, and other groups and land users play an important role in managing, restoring, and protecting the northern Bruce ecosystem. 
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Georgian Bay Islands National Park of Canada (2016)

    Georgian Bay Islands National Park (GBINP) is located in southeastern Georgian Bay in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country. Georgian Bay is home to the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, the 30,000 Islands, and the park acts as a southern gateway into this area. Comprising 63 dispersed islands and shoals the total area of the park is 14 km2 from the Centennial Group in the south to McQuade Island 50 kilometres northward. Situated just 150 km from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), GBINP is within a half-day’s drive for millions of Canadians. Created in 1929 it is Canada’s smallest national park straddling two natural regions and forms a core protected area of the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. The park lies on the edge of the Canadian Shield and is home to both northern and southern plants and animals. The islands are renowned for the variety of reptiles and amphibians they support. The park also has significant cultural value, having been occupied continuously for over 5,500 years. Maintenance and restoration of ecological integrity is the first priority of national parks (Canada National Parks Act s.8(2)). Species at risk, their residences, and their habitat are therefore protected by existing national park regulations and management regimes. In addition, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) prohibitions protecting individuals and residences apply automatically when a species is listed, and all critical habitat in national parks and national historic sites must be legally protected within 180 days of being identified.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada and associated National Historic Sites of Canada (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada and associated National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the four sites: Kouchibouguac National Park of Canada (KNP) and other land managed by Parks Canada in the Northern New-Brunswick Field Unit offering adequate habitat for the species targeted in this action plan (Fort Beauséjour – Fort Cumberland National Historic Site of Canada (NHS), Beaubassin – Fort Lawrence NHS, Grand-Pré NHS). The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species at Risk Act (SARA) (s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in KNP and associated NHS.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.
  • Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada (2016)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Thousand Islands National Park of Canada is a Species At Risk Act action plan (SARA s.47) for four species: American Water-willow (Justicia americana), Butternut (Juglans cinerea), Deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), and Pugnose Shiner (Notropis anogenus). The plan also outlines measures to monitor and manage 30 other species of conservation concern that regularly occur in the park. This plan applies only to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of Thousand Islands National Park of Canada.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2017)

    His Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, acknowledges receipt, on the making of this Order, of assessments done pursuant to subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada with respect to the status of the species set out in the annexed schedule.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (2017)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances), and, given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem can lead to a loss of individuals and species resulting in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report – 2012-2013 (2013)

    Under Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA), the foremost function of COSEWIC is to “assess the status of each wildlife species considered by COSEWIC to be at risk and, as part of the assessment, identify existing and potential threats to the species”. COSEWIC held two Wildlife Species Assessment Meetings in this reporting year (October, 2012 to September 2013) from November 25 to November 30, 2012 and from April 28 to May 3, 2013. During the current reporting period, COSEWIC assessed the status or reviewed the classification of 73 wildlife species. The wildlife species assessment results for the 2012-2013 reporting period include the following: Extinct: 0 Extirpated: 2 Endangered: 28 Threatened: 19 Special Concern: 19 Data Deficient: 4 Not at Risk: 1 Total: 73 Of the 73 wildlife species examined, COSEWIC reviewed the classification of 50 species that had been previously assessed. The review of classification for 26 of those species resulted in a confirmation of the same status as the previous assessment.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species – December 2013 (2013)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Endangered or Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection of prohibitions and recovery planning under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 518 wildlife species at risk. Please submit your comments by March 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultations and by October 23, 2014, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations. Consultation paths.