Off-white eyebrow stripe | Spotting on the throat
Dense Streaking on Breast | Smaller, thinner bill
- They have an eybrow stripe that is usually yellowish or buffy white, not bright white, and the stripe narrows behind the eye.
- They usually have a spotted throat.
- They should have more streaking on the breast, and the underparts usually appear somewhat yellowish. The color of the breast generally matches the color of the flanks.
- They have bills that are somewhat thinner and shorter than Louisiana Waterthrushes.
- They have legs that are dusky pink in color.
- They tend to prefer to be near flat, non-running water.
- They tend to bob their tails up and down.
Louisiana Waterthrushes can be distinguished from Northern Waterthrushes in similar ways:
Bold, white eye stripe, thick behind the eye
No spotting on throat | less dense streaking on breast
Pink legs | longer bill
- They have an eyebrow stripe that is usually bright white, and the stripe stays thick behind the eye.
- They usually have a clean white throat.
- They should have less streaking on the breast, and underparts should appear white with buffy flanks.
- They have bills that are somewhat thicker and longer than Northern Waterthrushes.
- In Spring, their legs tend to be brighter pink in color.
- They tend to prefer running water (though I have seen them by the shores of ponds).
- They tend to bob their tails with a more circular motion.
- Overall, Louisiana Waterthrushes have a more clean and tidy appearance compared to Northern Watherthrushes, since the breast, supercilium (eyebrow) and throat are always white.
For me, I first look at they eyebrow stripe, throat and streaking on the breast. Since I have red-green colorblindness, I don't use color unless I can get a photo to show others, though I've found I can tell the difference between bright colored legs and dusky legs. Also, notice how often I say "usually" and "normally" instead of "always." Seeing one characteristic may not give you a firm identification. But pile up a few, and you'll be able to make reliable identifications.
Okay, so now for a test. For me the best way I learned was to see both species in the field (along with other birds with similar appearance) and have to through the process of identifying them, getting them wrong, learning why, and then getting it right. Since I can't bring the field onto the blog, below I've added five photos. What are they? Feel free to leave your answers in the comments below. And just so you know, they aren't all waterthrushes!
|Mystery Bird #1|
|Mystery Bird #2|
|Mystery Bird #3|
|Mystery Bird #4|
|Mystery Bird #5|