Birdhouses 101 - Brown Thrasher

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Brown Thrasher

About The Brown Thrasher

Brown ThrasherThe brown thrasher (Toxostomo Rufus) as the name suggests has a mostly brown or reddish brown crown, nape, other upper parts and tail. It has a gray face and eyes of yellow and a slender slightly curved bill whose base mandible is yellow. The brown thrasher’s tail is long and makes up about half of the bird’s entire length. The brown thrasher has a white under part with heavy black streaking and yellow legs. Adult brown thrashers average about 25 to 29 cm (10 to 11.5 inches) in length. Brown Thrashers are commonly confused with thrushes and the long-billed thrashes of South Texas.

The Brown Thrasher Nesting Preferences

Brown thrashers are usually found nesting on residential areas, thickets, over grown fields, and in edges of forests. Brown thrashers build their nest in shrubs and bushes near the ground or on the ground itself. The male and female thrashers help build the nest which is made of twigs, leaves, and roots and are lined with dried leaves and grass. The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, which they take turns incubating. They usually raise only a couple of broods each year but are also known to raise three.

Building a Birdhouse For The Brown Thrasher

Gilbert H. Trafton, the author of Bird Friends written in 1916, recommends that birdhouses made for brown thrashers be built with a platform open on all four sides. Brown thrashers, however, prefer the ground so that the platform should be mounted near the ground and near shrubbery or fences covered with vines. Since the platform is to be open at all sides, the roof needs to be attached to it using two to four corner posts. Recommended platform dimensions are: 7” x 9” (floor), 8” (height), and should be mounted 1 to three feet above ground.

The Brown Thrasher Mating Habits

Courtship starts when the male thrasher issues a loud invitation through a loud, tree-top song. The song serves to attract females but is also a challenge to other possible rival males near the territory. The male’s loud song becomes more subdued when the female is finally attracted and comes near. The pair of birds then plays together near the ground in shrubs where they finally mate.

The Brown Thrasher Feeding Preferences

Brown ThrasherBoth sexes help in the care and feeding of the chicks. Brown thrashers are omnivorous and usually feed on insects and other invertebrates (worms and snails) but also feed on small vertebrates like lizards and frogs as well as berries, wild fruits, and nuts. It finds its food through foraging and uses its beak to help it in the process by moving aside obstacles found on the ground like small stones, leaves, and twigs.

Interesting Brown Thrasher Facts

The brown thrasher is known to be one of the best and most spectacular singers with the largest repertoire of songs of all North American birds. It is also a very shy bird so that the chance of people actually spotting the bird is smaller than that of hearing the bird sing. Some brown thrashers are very good mimics and even sing songs of other species of birds as part of their own songs.

Readers Comments

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Mary  Fultz  7/19/2007)
We have had a brown thrasher in our backyard for at least a week. We did hear him before we saw him. Today he flew onto a limb of one of our pine trees and sat and preened himself. We have very much enjoyed this bird. Thank you for the very good information. Mary

M Brownlee  5/6/2008)
05/06/2008We saw a brown thrasher feeding on sunflower seeds in front of our window. We had no idea what he was until we looked in our bird book. He spent at least an hour checking under every leaf & twig for more seeds. Would he eat fruit if we left some out?

Dee Campbell  5/16/2008)
Today I witnessed two brown thrashers, that seemed to be harrawsing a snake. They were very close to the snake and one of the birds kept spreading its and wings and getting close to the snake. Maybe this was diversion to keep the snake away from a nest.

J Burbee  5/25/2016)
I also witnessed a Brown Thrasher attacking a 5 foot Black Snake in my back yard. After watching this, it has now become my favorite bird...I'm not a fan of snakes.


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