Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Manjith Kainickara/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher
Toxostoma rufum
Perching Birds | Family: Mockingbirds and Thrashers, Mimidae

An estimated 3% of the species' North American breeding range lies within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

Brown Thrashers may be confused with thrushes but are larger, have longer tails, and are streaked (not spotted) below. They belong to the same family as the Mockingbird but, unlike that species, are retiring and secretive. They often feed on the ground, scattering dead leaves with their beaks as they search for insects. In recent years they have become scarce in much of their range; no one knows why.  The Brown Thrasher is also the state bird of Georgia.

Description

11 1/2" (29 cm). Rufous-brown above, white below with dark brown streaks. Curved bill, long tail; yellow eye. See Long-billed Thrasher.

Voice

A variety of musical phrases, each repeated twice; call a sharp smack!

Nesting

4 or 5 pale blue, brown-dotted eggs in a large, coarsely built nest of twigs, leaves, and rootlets lined with grass. The nest is usually near the ground in a dense, often thorny bush.

Habitat

Thickets, fields with scrub, and woodland borders.

Range/Migration

Breeds from southeastern Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and northern New England south to Gulf Coast and Florida. Winters in southern part of breeding range.