Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


Louisiana Waterthrush Nesting in Fontanelle Forest

Paul Bedell, 820 W. 29th, Richmond, Virginia 23225
Andy Saunders

Copyright 1982, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


On 5 June 1982, I located a nest of the Louisiana Waterthrush (Seiurus motacilla) in Fontenelle Forest. The location had been determined on 26 April when I, with three others, Tanya Bray, Babs Padelford and B.J. Rose, saw a Waterthrush carrying nesting material. This site was later reported as abandoned. I had first seen a Waterthrush in this area on 15 April and identified it as a Louisiana by its song. On 21 April I saw two foraging together. On the date of the nest building they were silent and easily overlooked; but I heard occasional singing on each of my five visits in June.

In late May Louisiana Waterthrushes were still present, so I suggested to Andy Saunders, of Fontenelle Forest Nature Center, that the old nest be located and photographed. An observation of an hour and a half on 2 June indicated that the pair was nesting about 50 feet further south in a shallow ravine with running spring water. Andy could then take a picture of the original site without disturbing nesting birds. The nest was well concealed by foilage and dead leaves at the base of a hackberry sapling on a steep wooded slope, about three feet from a spring which flowed just a couple yards down the hillside to a marshy stream.

On both 2 and 3 June, I saw three Waterthrushes at the same time with one suddenly giving chase to another. Both times I was unaware of the presence of the third bird until the chase. I have heard singing Waterthrushes from just south of Gifford Road to north of Handsome Hollow on the same day, a distance of over 800 yards of similar habitat. On 8 June I saw two Louisiana Waterthrushes at the start of the Oak Trail. Both were singing. One song consisted of two short clear notes followed by two long clear notes and an extensive "jumble". The other sang four nearly equal clear notes; but the jumbled portion of the song stopped almost as soon as it began. Both of these songs are different from what I was used to hearing at the nest site, which was intermediate between these two. These factors lead me to believe that there may be more than one pair nesting here.