Species Profile

Louisiana Waterthrush

Scientific Name: Parkesia motacilla
Other/Previous Names: Seiurus motacilla
Taxonomy Group: Birds
COSEWIC Range: Ontario, Quebec
COSEWIC Assessment Date and Status Change: November 2015
COSEWIC Status: Threatened
COSEWIC Status Criteria: D1
COSEWIC Reason for Designation: During the breeding season in Canada, this songbird nests along clear, shaded, coldwater streams and forested wetlands in southern Ontario and southwestern Québec. It occupies a similar habitat niche in Latin America during the winter. The Canadian population is small, probably consisting of fewer than 500 adults, but breeding pairs are difficult to detect. Population trends for the Canadian population are uncertain. Declines have been noted in some parts of the Canadian range, particularly in its stronghold in southwestern Ontario, while new pairs have been found in others. Immigration of individuals from the northeastern U.S. is thought to be important to maintaining the Canadian population. However, while the U.S. source population currently appears to be fairly stable, it may be subject to future population declines due to emerging threats to habitat.
COSEWIC History of Status Designation: Designated Special Concern in April 1991. Status re-examined and confirmed in April 1996 and April 2006. Status re-examined and designated Threatened in November 2015.
SARA Status: Schedule 1, Threatened
Date of Listing (yyyy-mm-dd): 2007-12-13

Please note that this information is provided for general information purposes only. For the most up to date and accurate list of species listed under the Species at Risk Act, please see the Justice Laws Website.

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Quick Links: | Description | Habitat | Biology | Threats | Protection | National Recovery Program | Documents

Description

The Louisiana Waterthrush (Parkesia motacilla) is a relatively large, drab wood-warbler that resembles a small thrush. Males and females are identical in appearance. The upper parts are dull brown. The lower parts are cream-coloured, with dark streaking on the breast and flanks. A bold, broad, white streak over the eye extends to the nape. The legs are bubble-gum pink, and the bill is rather long and heavy for a warbler. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2015]

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Distribution and Population

Most of theglobal breeding range (>99%) is within the eastern United States. In Canada, the Louisiana Waterthrush breeds in southern Ontario, where it is considered a rare , but regular loc al summer resident. It is also a rare, but sporadic breeder in southwestern Quebec. The bulk of the Canadian population is concentrated in two areas of Ontario: the Norfolk Sand Plain region bordering the north shore of Lake Erie, and the central Niagara Escarpment between Hamilton and Owen Sound. Its wintering range extends from northern Mexico through Central America to extreme northwestern South America, and also throughout the West Indies. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2015]

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Habitat

The Louisiana Waterthrush occupies specialized habitat, showing a strong preference for nesting and wintering along relatively pristine headwater streams and wetlands situated in large tracts of mature forest. Although it prefers running water (especially clear, coldwater streams), it also inhabits heavily wooded swamps with vernal or semi-permanent pools, where its territories can overlap with its sister species the Northern Waterthrush. It is often classified as both an area-sensitive forest species, and a riparian-obligate species. Louisiana Waterthrush nests are constructed within niches in steep stream banks, in the roots of uprooted trees, or in mossy logs and stumps, usually within a few metres of water. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2015]

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Biology

The Louisiana Waterthrush is a long-distance migrant that typically arrives in southern Ontario much earlier in the spring than other neotropical songbirds. It displays annual fidelity to both breeding and wintering sites. Louisiana Waterthrush clutch size ranges from 4- 6 eggs and incubation extends from 12-14 days. The species is generally single-brooded. The Louisiana Waterthrush spends most of its time on or near the ground, along the margins of streams and pools. It has a specialized diet, feeding mos tly on aquatic macro-invertebrates, especially insects, and sometimes eats small molluscs, fish, crustaceans, and amphibians. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2015]

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Threats

The Louisiana Waterthrush is a habitat specialist and its global population is limited by the supply of high-quality aquatic habitat on both its breeding and wintering grounds. There is no single imminent threat to the survival of the Canadian population; rather, it is the cumulative effects of many threats at different stages of its annual life cycle that are of particular concern. Habitat loss and changes in water quality/quantity due to agricultural intensification, and suburban residential development may have contributed to declines observed in parts of southern Ontario. Habitat conditions in Canada are expected to deteriorate due to the anticipated spread of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid, an exotic forest pest, into eastern Canada. Habitat fragmentation and degradation on its U.S. breeding grounds due to the combination of exotic forest pests and resource development could reduce immigration into the Canadian population. Habitat loss and degradation, including degraded water quality and deforestation due to agricultural and development activities, are ongoing threats in the wintering range. During migration, this species also experiences relatively high rates of mortality due to collisions with tall buildings and communication towers. [Updated by COSEWIC - Nov. 2015]

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Protection

Federal Protection

The Louisiana Waterthrush is protected under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA). More information about SARA, including how it protects individual species, is available in the Species at Risk Act: A Guide.

Provincial and Territorial Protection

To know if this species is protected by provincial or territorial laws, consult the provinces' and territories' websites.

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Documents

PLEASE NOTE: Not all COSEWIC reports are currently available on the SARA Public Registry. Most of the reports not yet available are status reports for species assessed by COSEWIC prior to May 2002. Other COSEWIC reports not yet available may include those species assessed as Extinct, Data Deficient or Not at Risk. In the meantime, they are available on request from the COSEWIC Secretariat.

14 record(s) found.

Reports on the Progress of Recovery Document Implementation

COSEWIC Status Reports

  • COSEWIC assessment and status report on the Louisiana Waterthrush Seiurus motacilla in Canada (2016-10-13)

    The Louisiana Waterthrush, Seiuros motacilla, is a relatively large, drab, thrush-like member of the Wood Warbler family (Parulidae). Males and females are identical in external appearance. The upper parts are dull brown. The lower parts are cream-coloured, with dark streaking on the breast and flanks, which fade out in the undertail coverts. A bold, broad, white supercilium extends to the nape. The legs are bubble-gum pink, and the bill is rather long and heavy for a warbler.

Response Statements

  • Response Statement - Louisiana Waterthrush (2017-01-11)

    During the breeding season in Canada, this songbird nests along clear, shaded, coldwater streams and forested wetlands in southern Ontario and southwestern Québec. It occupies a similar habitat niche in Latin America during the winter. The Canadian population is small, probably consisting of fewer than 500 adults, but breeding pairs are difficult to detect. Population trends for the Canadian population are uncertain. Declines have been noted in some parts of the Canadian range, particularly in its stronghold in southwestern Ontario, while new pairs have been found in others. Immigration of individuals from the northeastern U.S. is thought to be important to maintaining the Canadian population. However, while the U.S. source population currently appears to be fairly stable, it may be subject to future population declines due to emerging threats to habitat.
  • Response Statements - Louisiana Waterthrush (2006-11-29)

    This wood warbler breeds along clear, shaded, coldwater streams in southern Ontario and possibly southwestern Quebec. The Canadian population is small – probably less than 200 pairs – but has been stable over the last two decades and immigration from United States populations probably occurs. Habitat degradation, particularly from ATVs, may be a threat at some sites.

Action Plans

  • Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (2016-07-05)

    The Multi-species Action Plan for Point Pelee National Park of Canada and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada applies to lands and waters occurring within the boundaries of the two sites: Point Pelee National Park of Canada (PPNP) and the Niagara National Historic Sites of Canada (NNHS). The NNHS is being used as a term to collectively refer to two locations in the Niagara region that consist of three National Historic Sites: Fort George National Historic Site, Battlefield of Fort George National Historic Site, and Butler’s Barracks National Historic Sites of Canada. The plan meets the requirements for action plans set out in the Species At Risk Act (SARA s.47) for species requiring an action plan and that regularly occur in these sites. Measures described in this plan will also provide benefits for other species of conservation concern that regularly occur at PPNP and at NNHS.

Management Plans

  • Management Plan for the Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla) in Canada (2012-08-01)

    The Louisiana Waterthrush was listed as a species of Special Concern under SARA in December 2007. The Minister of the Environment and the Minister responsible for the Parks Canada Agency is the competent minister for the management of the Louisiana Waterthrush and has prepared this plan, as per section 65 of SARA. It has been prepared in cooperation with the Province of Ontario.

Orders

  • Order Acknowledging Receipt of the Assessments Done Pursuant to Subsection 23(1) of the Act (2007) (2007-05-16)

    This Order acknowledges receipt by the Governor in Council of the assessments of the status of 40 species done pursuant to paragraph 15(1)(a) and in accordance with subsection 23(1) of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). The purpose of SARA is to prevent wildlife species from being extirpated or becoming extinct, to provide for the recovery of wildlife species that are extirpated, endangered or threatened as a result of human activity and to manage species of special concern to prevent them from becoming endangered or threatened.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (volume 141, number 26, December 13, 2007) (2007-12-26)

    Her Excellency the Governor General in Council, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, pursuant to section 27 of the Species at Risk Act, hereby makes the annexed Order Amending Schedules 1 to 3 to the Species at Risk Act.
  • Order Amending Schedule 1 to the Species at Risk Act (Volume 153, Number 11, 2019) (2019-05-29)

    Biodiversity is rapidly declining worldwide as species become extinct. Today’s extinction rate is estimated to be between 1 000 and 10 000 times higher than the natural rate. Biodiversity is positively related to ecosystem productivity, health and resiliency (i.e. the ability of an ecosystem to respond to changes or disturbances). Given the interdependency of species, a loss of biodiversity can lead to decreases in ecosystem function and services (e.g. natural processes such as pest control, pollination, coastal wave attenuation, temperature regulation and carbon fixing). These services are important to the health of Canadians, and also have important ties to Canada’s economy. Small changes within an ecosystem resulting in the loss of individuals and species can therefore result in adverse, irreversible and broad-ranging effects.

COSEWIC Annual Reports

  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2006 (2006-08-30)

    2006 Annual Report to the The Minister of the Environment and the Canadian Endangered Species Conservation Council (CESCC) from the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada.
  • COSEWIC Annual Report - 2015-2016 (2016-10-13)

    Over the past year COSEWIC re-examined the status of 25 wildlife species; of these, the majority (68%) were re-assessed at the same or lower level of risk. Of a total of 45 species assessed, seven were assigned a status of Not at Risk (two re-assessments and five new assessments). To date, and with the submission of this report, COSEWIC’s assessments now include 724 wildlife species in various risk categories, including 320 Endangered, 172 Threatened, 209 Special Concern, and 23 Extirpated (i.e., no longer found in the wild in Canada). In addition, 15 wildlife species have been assessed as Extinct, 54 wildlife species have been designated as Data Deficient, and 177 have been assessed and assigned Not at Risk status.

Consultation Documents

  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act Terrestrial Species: December 2006 (2006-12-28)

    The Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) on June 5, 2003 as part of its strategy for the protection of wildlife species at risk. Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species that receive protection under SARA, hereinafter referred to as the 'SARA list'. Canadians are invited to comment on whether all or some of the species included in this document should be added to the SARA list. Please submit your comments by March 16, 2007 for species undergoing normal consultations and by March 14, 2008 for species undergoing extended consultations.
  • Consultation on Amending the List of Species under the Species at Risk Act: Terrestrial Species - January 2017 (2017-01-16)

    The Government of Canada is committed to preventing the disappearance of wildlife species at risk from our lands. As part of its strategy for realizing that commitment, on June 5, 2003, the Government of Canada proclaimed the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Attached to the Act is Schedule 1, the list of the species provided for under SARA, also called the List of Wildlife Species at Risk. Extirpated, Endangered and Threatened species on Schedule 1 benefit from the protection afforded by the prohibitions and from recovery planning requirements under SARA. Special Concern species benefit from its management planning requirements. Schedule 1 has grown from the original 233 to 521 wildlife species at risk. In 2016, on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment, the Governor in Council approved listing proposals for 44 wildlife species. It is proposed that 23 species be added to Schedule 1, 18 be reclassified or have a change made to how they are defined (two wildlife species are being split into four), one species  be removed from Schedule 1, and another two species not be added. Listing proposals were published in Canada Gazette, part I for a 30-day public comment period and final listing decisions for all 44 species are expected in the first half of 2017.Please submit your comments byMay 11, 2017, for terrestrial species undergoing normal consultationsand byOctober 11, 2017, for terrestrial species undergoing extended consultations.For a description of the consultation paths these species will undergo, please see:Minister of Environment response to COSEWIC species at risk assessments: October 13, 2016 The COSEWIC Summaries of Terrestrial Species Eligible for Addition or Reclassification on Schedule 1 - January 2017

Related Information

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Species at Risk Act (SARA) Listing Plan 2016 to 2018 (2017-09-29)

    The status of wildlife species is assessed by an independent panel of expert Canadian scientists, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 149 terrestrial species were assessed as at-risk by COSEWIC between 2009 and 2016 and are eligible for listing under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) to be considered by the Governor-in-Council (GIC) on the recommendation of the Minister of the Environment: 86 species would be new additions, 54 currently listed species would be reclassified and 9 species would be updated to reflect changes in their recognized designatable units. A three-year listing plan has been developed to address all 149 terrestrial species and listing decisions for most species are anticipated by the end of 2018. Making amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA is a two-step process. The first step is for the GIC to propose an amendment through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part I, for a 30-day public comment period. The second step is for the GIC to make a final decision on whether or not to make amendments to Schedule 1 of SARA, taking into consideration comments received during the 30-day public comment period. The amendments are made through an order in council published in the Canada Gazette, Part II. Both orders are accompanied by a Regulatory Impact Analysis Statement (RIAS) which presents the implications of listing the species or changing their status. Publishing this plan on the Species at Risk Public Registry is intended to provide transparency about the Government of Canada’s plan to make listing decisions under the Species at Risk Act. NOTE: The information presented below is intended to provide openness and transparency with respect to when terrestrial species might be considered for listing under Schedule 1 of the Species at Risk Act. It is intended to assist anyone who may wish to provide comments on such listing considerations. Given any number of factors can affect the timing of a listing decision; the Plan is subject to change. Accordingly, the Plan will be periodically updated.
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