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Ornithological Presentation
Louisiana and Northern Waterthrushes

Study skins from the collection of the Academy of Natural Sciences

by Adrian Binns 12/04



Seiurus noveboracensis


Seiurus motacilla


Seiurus from the Greek seio, meaning to wave, and oura tail.

Novaboracensis meaning of New York, where the bird was first found.

Motacilla: Latin for wagtail.

Waterthrush comes from its haunts and that the streaks on the breast look as distinguished as a thrush


Cool wooded bogs, swamps and slow streams. Fast flowing hillside streams

Underpart color

Tends to be even colored, either whitish or yellowish Usually shows buffy flanks that contrast with white underparts


Narrrow whitish, buffy or yellowish tinged supercillum of even width or slightly narrowing behind the eye. Usually uniform in color.
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Bright white supercillum that broadens towards the rear. Usually has a grayish pale buff coloration in front of the eye, but always gleaming white behind the eye.
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Eye line / stripe

Narrower and darker transocular line than on Louisiana. It is the same dark brown color as on the crown and back
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Browner and less distinct
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  On average, the white lower eye-arc is broader and more conspicuous


Smaller bill
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Longer and heavier billed.
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Small thin dark streaks on the throat of most all Northerns
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Usually plain white and unspotted
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Dense black streaks across the breast sharply defined and more apt to be organized into length-wise rows.
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Sparser browner, broader and more blurred streaking and not as dense across the breast
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Dull / drab pink legs. Darker leg color than Louisiana. Tend to be brighter bubble gum pink in spring
Undertail Coverts
In the hand, the large dark centers of the undertail coverts are diagnostic
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In the hand, Louisiana has small, diffuse gray centers on the undertail coverts.
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Shorter tailed than Northern

Tail movement
Constantly bobs its tail up-and-down and usually rapidly. Bobs its tail more slowly and in a semicircular (side to side) pattern


Bulkier than Northern, with a heavier body.

Call note

A sharp spwik, rising with a strong k sound. Slightly sharper than Louisiana and a little more metallic. Similar to Northern. A loud, strong spich not as hard as Northern.


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