Vancouver Avian Research Centre

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Species: Brown Thrasher Toxostoma rufum

General: A large, long tailed skulking bird of thickets and hedgerows . Adults measure about 29 cm long and weigh about 66 grams.

Sexes Similar: Brown or reddish-brown above, with a white breast and throat streaked with brown, and two white wing bars. It has a long tail, and its beak is also relatively large and somewhat curved.

Juvenile: Juvenile looks similar to adult, but upperparts with indistinct buff spotting with buffy wingbars and dull grayish eyes.

Similar Species: Unlikely to be mistaken for any other western species the eastern Wood Thrush is similar in colour and both Long-billed and Sage Thrashers are similar in appearance, the Long-billed Thrasher being found only in southern Texas and eastern Mexico, the Sage Thrasher being smaller with specific sagebrush habitat preference.

Behaviour: Notoriously difficult to see, the Brown Thrasher is a retiring type that prefers to skulk in thickets and heavy brush, often searching for food in dry leaves on the ground using the long, curved bill to sweep leaf litter and soil away.

Habitat: Breeds in brushy open country, thickets, shelter belts, riparian areas, and suburbs in the east.
Winters in hedgerows, gardens, thickets, and brushy woodland edges.

These birds raise two or even three broods in a year. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs in a bulky cup made of twigs, lined with leaves and grass with an inner lining of rootlets. The nest is built in a dense shrub or low in a tree often protected by thorns.

Both parents incubate and feed the young. They have the greatest repetoire of all birds being able to sing up to 3000 distinct songs.

The male sings a series of short repeated melodious phrases from an open perch to defend his territory and is also very aggressive in defending the nest known to strike people and animals near the nest.

The Brown Thrasher is sometimes called the Brown Thrush but is in fact a species of thrasher, part of the family Mimidae that includes catbirds and mockingbirds.

The longevity record for Brown Thrasher is 11 years and 11 months.

Conservation Status: (Least Concern)

Populations are thought to be declining slowly throughout the range, with habitat loss and degradation being the main cause as shrub lands mature in the East and fencerows are eliminated in the Great Plains.

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