Brown thrasher

Toxostoma rufum


Turdus rufus Linnaeus, 1758, Carolina. Two subspecies. OTHER COMMON NAMES

French: Moqueur roux; German: Rotrucken-Spottdrossel; Spanish: Cuitlacoche Rojizo.


10-11 in (25.5-28 cm); 2-3.2 oz (57.6-89 g) Upperparts deep rufous-brown, two whitish wing-bars on covert edges, underparts buffy-white with conspicuous blackish tear-drop shaped markings, eye yellow, bill brownish with flesh-colored base, legs brownish.


T. r .rufum breeds in eastern North America from New Brunswick and Maine south to Florida and west to central Ontario. T. r. longicauda breeds from western Ontario to southern Alberta, south to northeast New Mexico and central Oklahoma. The species winters from coastal Massachusetts to Texas, north to southern Illinois and Indiana. Vagrant to England, Bermuda, northern Alaska, Cuba, Bahamas, and northern Mexico.


Brushy areas, field-edges with hedges, well-vegetated suburbs, abandoned farmland.


Not particularly shy. Spends most of its time on or near ground, but frequently sings from high exposed perches. Song

Musical Phrase

is an attractive series of loud musical phrases, each phrase usually repeated, the whole song often continuing for several minutes at a time.


Food is very varied; many invertebrates including caterpillars, spiders, grasshoppers, and crayfish, also small frogs, snakes, and lizards; vegetable matter, especially berries, but also acorns, corn etc. Feeds mostly on the ground, probing into soft soil, sweeping aside leaf litter with sideways movements of the bill.


Nest is a bulky open cup, built of thorny twigs and lined with grass stems etc., located as high as 20 ft (6 m) in trees or bushes, but also frequently on the ground; built by both sexes. Eggs three to five, rarely only two, pale bluish white with fine reddish dots. Incubation by both sexes, 11-14 days; young fed by both sexes. Usually double-brooded.


Not threatened. Probably benefited from the spread of agriculture and especially from the abandonment and re-vegetation of marginal cropland. However, recent significant declines in overall population in Ontario and by implication elsewhere.


A popular and well-known species, the state bird of Georgia. ♦

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