Reclusive Wood Thrush Sings a Mysterious Tune

Although the wood thrush is quite reclusive, residing in dense forests and woodlands, its mysterious song is among the richest and most melodious in the bird world. Here’s how to find them and attract them.

Wood thrushes spend spring and summer hunting insects. In late summer and autumn, dogwood berries, elderberries, cherries, grapes and mulberries dominate the menu.

Listen for a lilting hee-o-lay hee-o-lay coming from thickets in spring and early summer.

Look for a handsome bird, a little smaller than a robin and more slender. Wood thrushes are rich brown above, with a rust-colored head, and the breast is creamy white with brown-black spots.



Watch wood thrushes hunting on the forest floor. They move in short bursts—much like robins (to which they are closely related).

Leave a thicket standing as habitat for wood thrushes and other cover-loving songbirds. Plant fruit-bearing shrubs and vines.

Did you know that many people confuse wood thrushes with brown thrashers? A wood thrush is smaller, with an all-black eye (the thrasher’s is ringed in yellow) and spotted breast (not streaked). The thrasher has a longer beak and tail.