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Wood Thrush Hylocichla mustelina
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This species has been uplisted to Near Threatened on the basis of evidence that it has undergone a moderately rapid population decline over the past three generations.

Taxonomic source(s)
AERC TAC. 2003. AERC TAC Checklist of bird taxa occurring in Western Palearctic region, 15th Draft. Available at: # _the_WP15.xls#.
Cramp, S.; Perrins, C. M. 1977-1994. Handbook of the birds of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The birds of the western Palearctic. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Catharus mustelinus Sibley and Monroe (1990, 1993)

Distribution and population
Hylocichla mustelina is a widespread breeding visitor to the eastern USA and south-eastern Canada, wintering in southern Mexico and Central America, south to Panama.

Population justification
This species is characterised as common.

Trend justification
Survey data obtained in the species's breeding range indicate that its population is in decline. Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data yield an average survey-wide yearly trend of -2.71% between 1999 and 2011, decreasing from an abundance index of 4.08 birds/route in 1999 to 2.86 birds/route in 2011 (Sauer et al. 2012). These results imply that the species underwent a c.30% decline over those 12 years (estimate of three generations). The trend between 1999 and 2011 appears to be part of a longer term negative trend overall, stretching back to 1966 at least, when the annual index was 8.03 birds/route (Sauer et al. 2012). The average survey-wide yearly trend from 1966 to 2011 is -2.22%. As with any broad-scale analysis of population trends, there are inherent uncertainties in the BBS trend data and analyses (Sauer et al. 2012), and given that the results imply a rate of decline that may just meet the threshold of a 30% decline over a three-generation period that does not equate to the past three generations (which would be 2001-2013), it is thought appropriate to estimate the overall rate of decline at 25-29% over the past 12 years until further evidence is obtained.

This species breeds in the interior and edge of a variety of deciduous and mixed forest communities, preferring those with a moderate shrub/subcanopy layer and fairly open forest floor, shade, moist soil and decaying leaf litter (del Hoyo et al. 2005). On passage, the species frequents secondary growth and forest edge. In its non-breeding range, it occupies the interior understorey of humid to semi-humid broad-leaved evergreen and semi-deciduous forest and mixed palm forest, also occurring in secondary growth, low-stature forest, thickets and plantations. It feeds mainly on soil-dwelling invertebrates, and takes fruit from late summer to early spring. It breeds from early May to late August, with pairs typically raising two broods. It is predominantly monogamous, with rare instances of polygyny. Pairs bonds usually last for a single season. It is a long-distance nocturnal migrant, leaving its breeding areas in mid-August to mid-September and crossing the Gulf of Mexico on a broad front from Texas to Florida, and making landfall from Veracruz, Mexico to Costa Rica (del Hoyo et al. 2005).

The primary threat to the species is likely to be the clearance and fragmentation of forests in both its breeding and non-breeding ranges, with pairs breeding in fragmented habitat suffering higher levels of nest predation and brood parasitism (del Hoyo et al. 2005). Acid rain is also thought to impact breeding success by leaching calcium out of the soil, which is necessary for healthy egg production (del Hoyo et al. 2005).

Conservation Actions Underway
This species has been the subject of targeted research and its population trends are captured through established survey programmes.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Continue to monitor population trends through established citizen science programmes. Investigate the possible causes of the decline. Carry out habitat restoration for the species. Increase the area of suitable habitat that receives formal and effective protection in both its breeding and non-breeding ranges.

Related state of the world's birds case studies

Bradley, N. L.; Leopold, A. C.; Ross, J.; Huffaker, W. 1999. Phenological changes reflect climate change in Wisconsin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 96: 9701-9704.

Butler, C. J. 2003. The disproportionate effect of global warming on the arrival dates of short-distance migratory birds in North America. Ibis 145: 484-495.

del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D. 2005. Handbook of the Birds of the World, vol. 10: Cuckoo-shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

IUCN. 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2012.1). Available at: (Accessed: 19 June 2012).

MacMynowski, D. P.; Root, T. L. 2007. Climate and the complexity of migratory phenology: sexes, migratory distance, and arrival distributions. International Journal of Biometeorology 51: 361-373.

Rich, T.D.; Beardmore, C.J.; Berlanga, H.; Blancher, P.J.; Bradstreet, M.S.W.; Butcher, G.S.; Demarest, D.W.; Dunn, E.H.; Hunter, W.C.; Inigo-Elias, E.E.; Martell, A.M.; Panjabi, A.O.; Pashley, D.N.; Rosenberg, K.V.; Rustay, C.M.; Wendt, J.S.; Will, T.C. 2004. Partners in flight: North American landbird conservation plan. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY.

Sauer, J. R.; Hines, J. E.; Fallon, J. E.; Pardieck, K. L.; Ziolkowski, D. J., Jr.; Link, W. A. 2012. The North American Breeding Bird Survey, Results and Analysis 1966 – 2011. Version 12.13.2011. Laurel, MD. Available at:

Further web sources of information
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J., Symes, A. & Taylor, J.

Cheskey, T.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Hylocichla mustelina. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Turdidae (Thrushes)
Species name author (Gmelin, 1789)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,490,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species