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Lifespan, longevity, and ageing

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Maximum longevity: 12.8 years (wild)
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Reproduction

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When males arrive at the breeding grounds they establish a territory. In the southern parts of their range breeding starts in February and March, in the northern parts, breeding starts in May and June. Soon after this, pairs are formed and they begin to build a nest. Mates find each other with calls, most commonly using a call similar to a "tick" or "tchuck". Once the bond is formed and the nest is built, the pair will mate.

Mating System: monogamous

Brown thrasher breeding seasons vary with geographic region. Birds in the southern region breed from February to March; while those in the northern region breed from May to June. Brown thrashers lay three to five eggs each breeding season. Incubation takes about two weeks, once the eggs have hatched, nestlings take from 9 to 13 days to fledge. Independence is reached 17 to 19 days later.

Breeding interval: Brown thrashers breed once yearly.

Breeding season: Breeding season varies geographically. Southern populations breed in February and March, northern populations birds breed in May and June

Range eggs per season: 3 to 5.

Range time to hatching: 11 to 14 days.

Range fledging age: 9 to 13 days.

Range time to independence: 17 to 19 days.

Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; seasonal breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; oviparous

Average eggs per season: 4.

Both parents incubate, brood, and feed nestlings. They incubate by sitting tightly on the nest and slip off when disturbed. During the incubation period, the female does the majority of the incubating. Both parents feed the chicks.

Parental Investment: altricial ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female); pre-hatching/birth (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Male, Female); pre-weaning/fledging (Provisioning: Male, Female, Protecting: Male, Female)

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Untitled

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Brown thrashers belong to the mimic thrush family, Mimidae. They are among the most vocal birds and often mimic other species. Other birds in this group include northern mockingbirds (Mimus polyglottos) and gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis).

The best time to observe these birds is in April, before nest sites are established. During this time males sing on high branches to attract mates.

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Behavior

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Brown thrashers communicate mainly with vocalizations. They use mimicry extensively as well and are well known for their songs. Males have the largest documented song repertoire of all North American bird. This includes over 1100 types of songs. At young ages, birds most commonly use "alarm noises". Primary modes of perception include visual and tactile. Brown thrashers use mainly vision to find food and their tactile abilities to search for and manipulate food.

Communication Channels: acoustic

Other Communication Modes: mimicry

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Conservation Status

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Brown thrashers are not listed as threatened or endangered in any part of their range. No management actions are known to increase or maintain populations. Dangers include pesticides, collisions with structures, and some degradation of habitats. These effects have yet to become harmful enough to cause concern.

US Migratory Bird Act: protected

US Federal List: no special status

CITES: no special status

State of Michigan List: no special status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: least concern

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Benefits

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Brown thrashers can be significant pests in fruit orchards and crop fields.

Negative Impacts: crop pest

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Benefits

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Brown thrashers are one of the best and most spectacular singers of all North American birds. Avid bird watchers enjoy the chance to see and hear these birds.

Positive Impacts: ecotourism ; research and education

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Ecosystem roles include competition with other birds for nesting sites and resources. Also these birds are prey for many snakes and other birds.

Commensal/Parasitic Species:

  • ticka (Ixodes dentatus)
  • hematophagous larvae (Protocalliphora metallica, P. shannoni)
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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Trophic Strategy

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Brown thrashers eat insects, primarily beetles and other arthropods, fruits, and nuts. They forage for food on the ground in leaf litter below trees and shrubs. These birds sweep the soil and leaf litter with rapid side-to-side movements that scatter leaves. After sweeping a few times, they will probe the soil and litter with their beaks.

Animal Foods: insects

Plant Foods: seeds, grains, and nuts; fruit

Primary Diet: omnivore

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Distribution

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Brown thrashers are found from southeastern Canada through eastern, central, and southeastern United States. Brown thrashers are the only thrasher species east of the Rocky Mountains and central Texas. During the breeding season brown thrashers primarily inhabit areas of southern Canada south to east central Texas. Migration is over short distances and at night. In winter, these birds migrate from the northern parts of their range into the southern parts of their range.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Native )

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Habitat

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Brown thrashers are found in warm, dry habitats, such as warm forest edges and dense thickets. They are also found in suburban and agricultural areas.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; terrestrial

Terrestrial Biomes: forest ; scrub forest

Other Habitat Features: suburban ; agricultural ; riparian

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Life Expectancy

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Year-to-year survival is age dependent for brown thrashers. Survival rate is approximately 35% for their first and second years, 50% between second and third years, and 75% between third and fourth years. Limitations to lifespan include disease (for example Salmonella tymphimurium), parasitism, and sometimes exposure to cold temperatures. The longest known lifespan in the wild is twelve years and in captivity, ten to twelve years.

Range lifespan
Status: wild:
12 (high) years.

Range lifespan
Status: captivity:
10 to 12 years.

Typical lifespan
Status: wild:
11.34 to 17.61 years.

Average lifespan
Status: wild:
14.14 years.

Average lifespan
Status: captivity:
12 years.

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Morphology

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Adults have rufous upperparts and white underparts with a long, black tail. They have long, straight bills and yellow eyes. Males and females are alike in size and coloration. They are from 23.5 cm to 30.5 cm long, with wingspans of 9.4 to 11.1 cm long. The young appear the same except their upperparts are spotted and their eyes are gray. There are two sub-species, brown thrashers (T. rufum rufum) and long-billed thrashers (T.rufum longirostre). Long-billed thrashers are unique in their dull upperparts, gray head, orange eye, and long, straight bill.

Range mass: 89 (high) g.

Average mass: 68.8 g.

Range length: 235 to 305 mm.

Range wingspan: 94 to 111 mm.

Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: sexes alike

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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Associations

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Gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis) have been documented visiting brown thrasher nests to break the eggs. Two hypotheses are proposed to explain this heterospecific egg destruction behavior: resource competition and egg predation. These birds both live in shrubs and have similar timing in breeding. They compete for the resources of this habitat. Once the catbird has broken the egg, usually it will consume the contents. This egg consumption is consistent with the proposed egg predation hypothesis. The eggs of brown thrashers are also preyed on by many species of snakes. Adults and nestlings are preyed on by falcons.

To respond to predation, brown thrashers have a few natural defenses. Adults are aggressive and often chase predators from the nest. Adults will use their bill to hit predators, these are large birds and they can cause significant damage to small and medium-sized predators. Other defenses include flapping theirwings and vocalizations.

Known Predators:

  • gray catbirds (Dumetella carolinensis)
  • eastern yellowbelly racers (Coluber constrictor)
  • common garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis)
  • Great Plains rat snakes (Pantherophis emoryi)
  • common king snakes (Lampropeltis getula),
  • milk snakes (Lampropeltis triangulum)
  • prarie king snakes (Lampropeltis calligaster)
  • black rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus)
  • bull snakes (Pituophis)
  • domestic cats (Felis silvestris)
  • peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus)
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Gray, P. 2007. "Toxostoma rufum" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 27, 2013 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Toxostoma_rufum.html
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Phillip Gray, Kalamazoo College
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Ann Fraser, Kalamazoo College
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Tanya Dewey, Animal Diversity Web
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Toxostoma rufum

provided by DC Birds Brief Summaries

A large (11 ½ inches) songbird, the Brown Thrasher is most easily identified by its rusty-brown back, speckled breast, long rounded tail, and long curved bill. This species may be distinguished from the related Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre) by that species’ paler plumage and from several species of brown New World thrushes by their smaller sizes and shorter tails. Male and female Brown Thrashers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Brown Thrasher breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada. Northerly-breeding populations migrate to the southeastern U.S. and east Texas for the winter. Populations breeding further south are non-migratory. Brown Thrashers breed in a variety of semi-open habitats with large quantities of groundcover, including forest edges, grasslands, and shrubby fields. Birds that migrate south in winter utilize similar habitat types as they do on their breeding grounds further north. Brown Thrashers eat a variety of plant and animal foods, including insects, spiders, berries, and fruits. In appropriate habitat, Brown Thrashers may be seen foraging for food on the ground or in the branches of low bushes and shrubs. A close relative of the mockingbirds, this species is also known for its ability to mimic other birds, and may be identified aurally by its habit of repeating each mimicked bird vocalization twice in a row before moving on (for comparison, the Northern Mockingbird repeats each vocalization three or more times, while the Gray Catbird, another mimic, switches vocalizations for each refrain). Brown Thrashers are primarily active during the day.

Threat Status: Least Concern

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Reid Rumelt

Toxostoma rufum

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A large (11 ½ inches) songbird, the Brown Thrasher is most easily identified by its rusty-brown back, speckled breast, long rounded tail, and long curved bill. This species may be distinguished from the related Long-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma longirostre) by that species’ paler plumage and from several species of brown New World thrushes by their smaller sizes and shorter tails. Male and female Brown Thrashers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Brown Thrasher breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada. Northerly-breeding populations migrate to the southeastern U.S. and east Texas for the winter. Populations breeding further south are non-migratory. Brown Thrashers breed in a variety of semi-open habitats with large quantities of groundcover, including forest edges, grasslands, and shrubby fields. Birds that migrate south in winter utilize similar habitat types as they do on their breeding grounds further north. Brown Thrashers eat a variety of plant and animal foods, including insects, spiders, berries, and fruits. In appropriate habitat, Brown Thrashers may be seen foraging for food on the ground or in the branches of low bushes and shrubs. A close relative of the mockingbirds, this species is also known for its ability to mimic other birds, and may be identified aurally by its habit of repeating each mimicked bird vocalization twice in a row before moving on (for comparison, the Northern Mockingbird repeats each vocalization three or more times, while the Gray Catbird, another mimic, switches vocalizations for each refrain). Brown Thrashers are primarily active during the day.

References

  • Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • Cavitt, John F. and Carola A. Haas. 2000. Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/557
  • Toxostoma rufum. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012.
  • eBird Range Map - Brown Thrasher. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012.

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Rumelt, Reid B. Toxostoma rufum. June-July 2012. Brief natural history summary of Toxostoma rufum. Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
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Robert Costello (kearins)
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Brown thrasher

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The brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) 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 a large-sized thrasher. 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.[3] 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.[4]

Taxonomy and naming

The brown thrasher was originally described by Linnaeus in his 18th century work Systema Naturae as Turdus rufus.[5] The genus name Toxostoma comes from the Ancient Greek toxon, "bow" or "arch" and stoma, "mouth". The specific rufum is Latin for "red", but covers a wider range of hues than the English term.[6]

Although not in the thrush family, this bird is sometimes erroneously called the brown thrush.[7] The name misconception could be because the word thrasher is believed to derive from the word thrush.[8][9] The naturalist Mark Catesby called it the fox-coloured thrush.[10]

Genetic studies have found that the brown thrasher is most closely related to the long-billed and Cozumel thrashers (T. longirostre & guttatum), within the genus Toxostoma.[11][12]

Description

The brown thrasher is bright reddish-brown above with thin, dark streaks on its buffy underparts.[13] It has a whitish-colored chest with distinguished teardrop-shaped markings on its chest. Its long, rufous tail is rounded with paler corners, and eyes are a brilliant yellow. Its bill is brownish, long, and curves downward. Both male and females are similar in appearance.[14] The juvenile appearance of the brown thrasher from the adult is not remarkably different, except for plumage texture, indiscreet upper part markings, and the irises having an olive color.[10]

"
Adult with juvenile (r) in Virginia, U.S.

The brown thrasher is a fairly large passerine, although it is generally moderate in size for a thrasher, being distinctly larger than the sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) but similar or somewhat smaller in size than the more brownish Toxostoma species found further west. Adults measure around 23.5 to 30.5 cm (9.3 to 12.0 in) long with a wingspan of 29 to 33 cm (11 to 13 in), and weigh 61 to 89 g (2.2 to 3.1 oz), with an average of 68 g (2.4 oz).[15] Among standard measurements, the wing chord is 9.5 to 11.5 cm (3.7 to 4.5 in), the tail is 10.9 to 14.1 cm (4.3 to 5.6 in), the culmen is 2.2 to 2.9 cm (0.87 to 1.14 in) and the tarsus is 3.2 to 3.6 cm (1.3 to 1.4 in).[10] There are two subspecies:[10] the 'brown thrasher' (T. rufum rufum), which lies in the eastern half of Canada and the United States,[10] and the 'western brown thrasher' (T. rufum longicauda (Baird, 1858)),[16][17] which resides in the central United States east of the Rocky Mountains and southern central Canada. The western brown thrasher is distinguished by a more cinnamon upper part, whiter wing bars, and darker breast spots than T.rufum rufum.[10][17]

The lifespan of the brown thrasher depends on a year-to-year basis, as the rate of survival the first year is 35%, 50% in between the second and third year, and 75% between the third and fourth year.[14] 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.[14]

Similar species

The similar-looking long-billed thrasher has a significantly smaller range.[18] It has a gray head and neck, and has a longer bill than the brown thrasher.[10] The brown thrasher's appearance is also strikingly similar to the wood thrush, the bird that it is usually mistaken for.[10] However, the wood thrush has dark spots on its under parts rather than the brown thrashers' streaks, has dark eyes, shorter tail, and is a smaller bird.[10][19]

Distribution and habitat

The brown thrasher resides in various habitats. It prefers to live in woodland edges, thickets and dense brush,[20] often searching for food in dry leaves on the ground.[21] It can also inhabit areas that are agricultural and near suburban areas, but is less likely to live near housing than other bird species.[10][14] The brown thrasher often vies for habitat and potential nesting grounds with other birds, which is usually initiated by the males.[14]

The brown thrasher is a strong, but partial migrant, as the bird is a year-round resident in the southern portion of its range.[8] The breeding range includes the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains, but has been occasionally spotted West of the Rockies.[22][23] The increase in trees throughout the Great Plains during the past century due to fire suppression and tree planting facilitated a westward range expansion of the brown thrasher[24] as well as range expansions of many other species of birds.[25][26][27] Studies indicate that thrashers that reside in the New England region of the United States during the breeding season fly toward the Carolinas and Georgia, birds located in the east of the Mississippi winter from Arkansas to Georgia, and birds located in the Dakotas and the central Canadian provinces head towards eastern Texas and Louisiana.[10] When the species does migrate, it is typically for short distances and during the night.[14] There are also records of the bird wintering in Mexico,[28] as well as a British record of a transatlantic vagrant.[29]

Behavior

"
John James Audubon's picture depicting ferruginous thrush

The brown thrasher has been observed either solo or in pairs. The brown thrasher is usually an elusive bird, and maintains its evasiveness with low-level flying.[30][31] When it feels bothered, it usually hides into thickets and gives cackling calls.[31] Thrashers spend most of their time on ground level or near it. When seen, it is commonly the males that are singing from unadorned branches.[32] The brown thrasher has been noted for having an aggressive behavior,[33] and is a staunch defender of its nest.[14] However, the name does not come from attacking perceived threats, but is believed to have come from the thrashing sound the bird makes when digging through ground debris.[14][34] It is also thought that the name comes from the thrashing sound that is made while it is smashing large insects to kill and eventually eat.[35]

Feeding

This bird is omnivorous, which has a diet that includes insects, berries, nuts and seeds, as well as earthworms, snails, and sometimes lizards and frogs.[36] Across seasons and its breeding range, it was found 63% of stomach contents were made of animal matter, the remaining 37% being plant material.[37] During the breeding season, the diet consists primarily of beetles, grasshoppers, and other arthropods, and fruits, nuts and seeds. More than 80% of the diet of brown thrasher from Illinois is made of animal matter, about 50% being beetles.[38] In Iowa, about 20% of the summer diet was found to consist of grasshoppers.[39] By the late summer, it begins to shift towards more of a herbivore diet, focusing on fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains, 60% of the food in Illinois being fruits and seeds.[38][40] By winter, the customary diet of the brown thrasher is fruit and acorns.[41] Wintering birds in Texas were found to eat 58% plant material (mainly sugar berry and poison ivy) and 42% animal material in October; by March, in the dry period when food supply is generally lower, 80% of the food became animal and only 20% plants.[42] Vertebrates are only eaten occasionally and are often comprised by small reptiles and amphibians, such as lizards, small or young snakes, tree frogs and salamanders.[37][43]

The brown thrasher utilizes its vision while scouring for food. It usually forages for food under leaves, brushes, and soil debris on the ground using its bill.[44] It then swipes the floor in side-to-side motions, and investigates the area it recently foraged in.[14] The brown thrasher forages in a similar method to the Long-billed thrasher and Bendire's thrasher (T. longirostre & bendirei), picking food off the ground and under leaf litter, whereas thrashers with sharply decurved bills are more likely to dig into the ground to obtain food.[45] Foraging success is 25% greater in dry leaf litter as compared to damp leaf letter.[46] The brown thrasher can also hammer nuts such as acorns in order to remove the shell.[14] It has also been noted for its flexibility in catching quick insects, as the amount of vertebrae in its neck exceeds giraffes and camels.[47] In one case, a brown thrasher was observed to dig a hole about 1.5 cm (0.59 in) deep, place an acorn in it and hit the acorn until it cracked, considered to be a form of tool usage.[48] In a laboratory experiment, a brown thrasher was found to be able to discern and reject the toxic eastern newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) and a palatable mimic of that species, the red salamander (Pseudotriton ruber), but continued to eat palatable dusky salamanders (Desmognathus spp.).[49]

Breeding

"
Nest and eggs

Brown thrashers are typically monogamous birds, but mate-switching does occur, at times during the same season.[36][50] Their breeding season varies by region. In the southeastern United States, the breeding months begin in February and March, while May and June see the commencement of breeding in the northern portion of their breeding range. When males enter the breeding grounds, their territory can range from 2 to 10 acres (0.81 to 4.05 ha).[50][51] Around this time of the year the males are usually at their most active, singing blaringly to attract potential mates, and are found on top of perches.[36][52] The courting ritual involves the exchanging of probable nesting material. Males will sing gentler as they sight a female, and this enacts the female to grab a twig or leaf and present it to the male, with flapping wings and chirping sounds. The males might also present a gift in response and approach the female.[53][54] Both sexes will take part in nest building once mates find each other, and will mate after the nest is completed.[14]

The female lays 3 to 5 eggs, that usually appears with a blueish or greenish tint along with reddish-brown spots.[20] There are rare occurrences of no spots on the eggs.[4] The nest is built twiggy, lined with grass, leaves, and other forms of dead vegetation. The nests are typically built in a dense shrub or low in a tree, usually up to 2.1 m (6.9 ft) high, but have built nests as high as 6 m (20 ft).[4] They also on occasion build nests on the ground. Between eleven days to two weeks, the eggs hatch. Both parents incubate and feed the young, with the female doing most of the incubating. Nine to thirteen days after hatching, the nestlings begin to fledge. These birds raise two, sometimes even three, broods in a year.[55] The male sings a series of short repeated melodious phrases from an open perch to declare his territory,[56] and is also very aggressive in defending the nest, known to strike people and animals.[57]

Vocal development

The male brown thrasher may have the largest song repertoire of any North American bird, which has been documented at least over 1,100.[14] Some sources state that each individual has up to 3,000 song phrases,[58][59] while others stated beyond 3,000.[60][61][62] The males' singing voice usually contains more of a melodic tone than that of the related grey catbird.[63] Its song are coherent phrases that are iterated no more than three times, but has been done for minutes at a time.[4][64] By the fall, the male sings with smoother sub-songs.[4] During the winter, the males may also sing in short spurts during altercations with neighboring males.[41]

In the birds' youth, alarm noises are the sounds made.[14] As an adult, the brown thrasher has an array of sounds it will make in various situations. Both male and females make smack and teeooo-like alarm calls when provoked, and hijjj sounds at dusk and dawn.[65] Others calls may consist of an acute, sudden chakk,[4] rrrrr, a Tcheh sound in the beginning that ends with an eeeur, kakaka, and sounds reminiscent of a stick scraping a concrete sidewalk.[66] Brown thrashers are noted for their mimicry (as a member of the family Mimidae), but they are not as diverse in this category as their relative the northern mockingbird.[4][35] However, during the breeding season, the mimicking ability of the male is at its best display, impersonating sounds from tufted titmice (Baeolophus bicolor), northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis), wood thrushes, northern flickers (Colaptes auratus), among other species.[50]

Predation and threats

Although this bird is widespread and still common, it has declined in numbers in some areas due to loss of suitable habitat.[67][68][69] Despite the decrease, the rate does not warrant a status towards vulnerable.[70] One of the natural nuisances is the parasitic brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater), but these incidents are rare. Whenever these situations occur, the brown thrashers usually discard of the cowbirds' eggs.[24][71] Occasionally, the thrasher has thrown out their own eggs instead of the cowbird eggs due to similar egg size,[72] and at least one recorded event raised a fledgling.[71] Northern cardinals and grey catbirds are also major competitors for thrashers in terms of territorial gain.[72] Because of the apparent lack of opportunistic behavior around species like these, thrashers are prone to be driven out of zones for territory competition.[73] Brown thrashers have tendencies to double-brood or have failures on their first nesting attempts due to predation.[74] Grey catbirds have been seen invading brown thrashers' nests and breaking their eggs.[14] Other than the catbird, snakes, birds of prey, and cats are among the top predators of the thrasher.[75] In Kansas, at least eight species of snake were identifieid as potentially serious sources of nest failure.[76] Among the identified avian predators of adults are Cooper's hawks (Accipiter cooperii),[77] northern goshawk (Accipiter gentilis),[78] broad-winged hawks (Buteo platypterus),[79] merlins (Falco columbarius),[80] peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus),[81] eastern screech-owls (Megascops asio),[82] great horned owls (Bubo virginianus)[83] barred owls (Strix varia)[84] and long-eared owls (Asio otus).[84]

The brown thrasher methods of defending itself include using its bill, which can inflict significant damage to species smaller than it, along with wing-flapping and vocal expressions.[75]

State bird

The brown thrasher is the state bird of Georgia. The brown thrasher also was the inspiration for the name of Atlanta's former National Hockey League team, the Atlanta Thrashers.[85]

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Brown thrasher: Brief Summary

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The brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) 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 a large-sized thrasher. 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.

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