Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher Ferruginous Mocking-Bird

There is no mistaken identification when a male Brown Thrasher sings his song. It is so varied and beautiful, I simply have to stop and enjoy his concert.

The Brown Thrasher has one of the largest song repertoires of any North American bird. Boldly patterned, it is conspicuous when singing in its territory, but is hardly discernable during the rest of year. During it's autumnal molt, it looses almost all it's feathers and regains again during the winter.

A big bird (9-12 inches long and a 12 inch wingspan), it migrates north to our area in the summer breeding period. The upper parts are what is called rufus (a kinda red/brown rust color) and the underparts are cream/gray marked with dark gray spots. They have yellow eyes, gray face, two white bars on the wings and a long curved dark beak.

The Thrasher breeds in brushy open country, thickets, shelter belts, riparian areas, and suburbs. An aggressive defender of its nest, the Brown Thrasher is known to strike people and dogs hard enough to draw blood. The nest is a bulky cup made of twigs, lined with leaves, then with an inner lining of rootlets. They nest in dense shrubs, especially with thorns, up to 14 feet above ground (average 2-7 feet) but often placed on ground. They will lay from two to six smooth glossy very pale blue to green blue eggs that have reddish brown speckles. The babies leave the nest when 9-13 days old. They only raise one brood a season.

An Omnivore, it's diet consists of insects (especially beetles), other arthopods, fruits, and nuts. It feeds in leaf litter by using its bill to sweep litter and soil away. They may visit back yard feeders that offer corn, seed, suet, and fruit.

A relative of the mocking bird and catbird, these big birds are known to fight other big birds, snakes, dogs, cats, raccoons, and each other. Their songs are often in the top of trees (as I have seen and pictured here) and it is during this time the eggs are being incubated (usually not more than 100 ft. from the perch.) Both male and female sit on the eggs. They dislike any intrusion, including humans, and if their eggs and nest are disturbed, they will follow the invader up to half a mile all the time attacking.

Little other bits: The Brown Thrasher is the state bird of Georgia. They survive well caged and will continue to sign in captivity.

"God loved the birds and invented trees. Man loved the birds and invented cages." Jacques Deval Afin de vivre bel et bien

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