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Waterthrush, southern Ontario, May 2016 (1 Viewer)

D Halas

Well-known member
I photographed this waterthrush on the 12th of May, 2016, in a suburb to the west of Toronto. At the time, I put it down as a Northern, chiefly because the supercilium didn't broaden at the rear, as I believed a Louisiana Waterthrush's should. Louisiana Waterthrush is also considerably rarer than Northern in southern Ontario. I've been going over my old photos, however, and now that I take a second look at these, I wonder if it isn't a Louisiana after all. I've since read that the supercilium doesn't necessarily get broader at the rear on a Louisiana, and several of the bird's other features look better to me for Louisiana than Northern – in particular, the pattern and density of the streaking on the breast and sides. Comparing my photos to Sibley's illustrations here, the streaking pattern certainly looks closer to that of a Louisiana Thrush. There are a couple of dark spots on the throat, but Sibley says that "some Louisianas have scattered small dots over throat", so that doesn't seem to eliminate a Louisiana Waterthrush as well.

The habitat was a downed willow tree in fairly dense undergrowth immediately next to a fairly broad creek, in a deeply eroded valley. It isn't an area where either waterthrush is known to breed.

So, is this a white-bellied, sparsely-streaked Northern, or a Louisiana with a weak supercilium?
 

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Larry Sweetland

Formerly 'Larry Wheatland'
I see where you're coming from, but I'm getting a Northern feel for this bird on structure, size of bill, supercilium shape, and underpart streaking. That's just my opinion, which could easily be swayed here!
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
It is a little funny you say white-bellied when I see a yellow cast (though not equally strong on all images). Another feature pro northern is that I do not see a darkening of the underside color (the base color between the stripes) towards the flank. Louisiana is supposed to have a buffy to brownish cast on the flanks.

Niels
 

D Halas

Well-known member
It is a little funny you say white-bellied when I see a yellow cast (though not equally strong on all images). Another feature pro northern is that I do not see a darkening of the underside color (the base color between the stripes) towards the flank. Louisiana is supposed to have a buffy to brownish cast on the flanks.

Niels

I see what you mean, but most of that yellow cast, if not all of it, is due to the light being filtered by the young, newly-emerged foliage on the trees above the bird. I've adjusted some of the photos in Photoshop with the auto tone and auto colour functions to give what I believe would be closer to the actual colour under neutral light. In the three I've attached here, there's much less of a yellow cast, if any. As for the buffy cast on the flanks, that was a concern of mine, too, but unless I'm fooling myself there does appear to be a bit of it in images 1 and 4 – maybe it stands out a bit better in the filtered images?
 

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birdmeister

Well-known member
United States
In the first image, I get a distinct Northern feel. On a couple others, I'm not so sure. However, I'm still leaning towards Northern.

Bit of a tough bird, though.
 

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