Distribution and Habitat
The Wood Thrush's breeding range extends from Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia in southern Canada to northern Florida and from the Atlantic coast to the Missouri River and the eastern Great Plains. It migrates to southern Mexico through to Panama in Central America in the winter, mostly in the lowlands along the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. It generally arrives on the U.S. Gulf Coast during the first week of April. Fall migration usually begins in mid-August and continues through mid-September. Migration takes place at night, allowing them to find their direction from the stars and orient themselves by detecting the Earth's magnetic field.
The Wood Thrush prefers deciduous and mixed forests for breeding. It prefers late-successional, upland mesic forests with a moderately-dense shrub layer. Robert I. Bertin (1977) found that this thrush favors areas with running water, moist ground, and high understorey cover. The breeding habitat generally includes trees taller than 16 m (52 ft), a fairly open forest floor, moist soil, and leaf litter, with substrate moisture more important than either canopy cover or access to running water. The Wood Thrush can breed in habitat patches as small as 0.4 hectares (0.99 acres), but it runs the risk of higher predation and nest parasitism. The Wood Thrush's breeding range has expanded northward, displacing the Veery and Hermit Thrush in some locations. In recent times, as a result of fragmentation of forests, it has been increasingly exposed to nest parasitism by Brown-headed Cowbirds, as well as loss of habitat in the winter range.
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