Louisiana Waterthrush
(Parkesia motacilla)


Picture of bird
© John Reaume
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The small population of Louisiana Waterthrush in Canada breeds along pristine woodland streams in southern Ontario and possibly Quebec, the northern limit of its breeding range. The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario, combined with recent targeted surveys, suggest that the species' occurrence within the province has changed little overall during the period covered by these programs. The Louisiana Waterthrush was listed under the Species at Risk Act in 2007. In 2015, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada recommended the status be up-listed to Threatened (COSEWIC 2015a) based on the small Canadian population size and concerns over threats to its habitat in the United States. Immigration of individuals from the United States is thought to be important to maintaining the Canadian population (COSEWIC 2015a). This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Threatened2015 
SARA (Canada)Special Concern2007 
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Vulnerable2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLittle ChangeMediumBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada< 500 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population
CanadaVery Low

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late April and early May and ends in late June, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

Habitat degradation, deforestation, and increasing stream turbidity may negatively impact the species on both its wintering and breeding grounds (COSEWIC 2015a). Residential developments in suburban areas have also contributed to declines in Ontario (COSEWIC 2015a). Hemlock is an important habitat component in Ontario, and ongoing impacts from infestations of the invasive, introduced insect, Hemlock Woolly adelgid, may adversely affect this species (Mattsson et al. 2009). The Canadian Wildlife Service has been conducting targeted surveys to more accurately determine the distribution and abundance of the species in Ontario. Recent evidence suggests that this species may be an excellent bio-indicator of stream ecosystem health (COSEWIC 2015a). For information on the legal status of this species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and to view available recovery documents, see the SARA Registry.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Hardwood TransitionBoreal Hardwood Transition, sub-region and priority type: Ontario and Manitoba -- Conservation
Lower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence PlainLower Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Plain, sub-region and priority type: Ontario -- Conservation