Wood Thrush (Wood Thrush)

Song: Usually three-parted. The A part is similar to a Bup Volley and consists of 2-6 short low volume notes, that may not be audible at a distance. The B part is a series of 2 to 5 flute-like whistles. This is the loudest and clearest part of the song. The C part is higher pitched and often trill like, lower in volume and somewhat ethereal. These terminal "flourishes" are often extremely complex, with the right and left voice boxes singing two completely different, but perfectly coordinated, patterns simultaneously.

Each male Wood Thrush has several different variations of each part which he combines in various ways to create a large repertoire of song patterns. They sing a new song pattern at a rate of about once every 3-4 seconds, and almost never repeat the same pattern consecutively (Borror 1956).

The parts are almost always given in the same order but occasionally one or more of the parts are omitted (Weaver, 1949).

Wood Thrushes often engage in countersinging with neighboring males, and like many other species that sing in immediate variety mode, they do not match songs with their rivals (Whitney 1991). In fact they tend to answer each other's songs with songs that are markedly different, as if striving for maximum variety in the combined performance (Elliott 2006, Kroodsma 2005).

Song is usually delivered from moderately high in the canopy, but the male will at times sing from the ground or in flight (Brackbill 1958).

Song is given almost exclusively by males, but there are reports of females giving a subdued, underdeveloped version of the song during nesting activities (Brackbill 1948).

Wood Thrush song, May 1, 2010, Kettle Moraine State Park, South Unit, Waukesha County, Wisconsin.


Borror, D. J. and C. R. Reese. 1956. Vocal gymnastics in Wood Thrush songs. Ohio J. Sci. 56:177-182.

Brackbill, H. 1948. A Singing Female Wood Thrush. Wilson Bull. 60:98-102.

Brackbill, H. 1958. Nesting behavior of the Wood Thrush. Wilson Bull. 70:70-89.

Elliott, Lang. 2006. The Songs of Wild Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

Kroodsma, D. E. 2005. The Singing Life of Birds. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston.

Weaver, F. G. 1949. Wood Thrush. Pages 101-123 in Life history of North American thrushes, kinglets, and their allies. (Bent, A. C., Ed.) U.S. Natl. Mus. Bull. 196.