The brown thrasher is a bird in the family Mimidae, which also includes the New World catbirds and mockingbirds. The brown thrasher is abundant throughout the eastern and central United States and southern and central Canada, and it is the only thrasher to live primarily east of the Rockies and central Texas. It is the state bird of Georgia.
As a member of the genus Toxostoma, the bird is relatively large-sized among the other thrashers. It has brown upper parts with a white under part with dark streaks. Because of this, it is often confused with the smaller wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), among other species. The brown thrasher is noted for having over 1000 song types, and the largest song repertoire of birds. However, each note is usually repeated in two or three phrases.
The brown thrasher is an omnivore, with its diet ranging from insects to fruits and nuts. The usual nesting areas are shrubs, small trees, or at times on ground level. Brown thrashers are generally inconspicuous but territorial birds, especially when defending their nests, and will attack species as large as humans.
Disease and exposure to cold weather are among contributing factors for the limits of the lifespan. However, the longest lived thrasher in the wild is 12 years, and relatively the same for ones in captivity.
The brown thrasher resides in various habitats. It prefers to live in woodland edges, thickets and dense brush, often searching for food in dry leaves on the ground. It can also inhabit areas that are agricultural and near suburban areas, but is less likely to live near housing than other bird species. The brown thrasher often vies for habitat and potential nesting grounds with other birds, which is usually initiated by the males.
The brown thrasher is a strong, but partial migrant, as the bird is a year-round resident in the southern portion of its range. The breeding range includes the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains, but has been occasionally spotted West of the Rockies.
The male brown thrasher may have the largest song repertoire of any North American bird, which has been documented as at least over 1,100. Some sources state that each individual has up to 3,000 song phrases, while others put the number beyond 3,000. The males' singing voice usually contains more of a melodic tone than that of the related grey catbird. Its song are coherent phrases that are iterated no more than three times, but has been done for minutes at a time. By the fall, the male sings with smoother sub-songs. During the winter, the males may also sing in short spurts during altercations with neighboring males.
To hear the thrasher sing, go here:
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- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 cups cold cooked white rice, rinsed
- 1 (10-ounce) package frozen peas, thawed
- 3 scallions, sliced
- 1/3 cup light soy sauce
- 1/4 cup chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1945 – Itzhak Perlman, Israeli violinist