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Brown Thrasher
Brown Thrasher
Photos © Julia Flanagan

Brown Thrasher
Toxostoma rufum
Order: Passeriformes; Family: Mimidae

The Brown Thrasher often can be spotted searching among leaves on the ground in brush and thickets, where it will probably find insects and other arthropods, but it eats quite a variety of animal and plant materials. 

It is an evenly reddish- brown bird, larger than a Robin, with a long tail and golden eyes. Its face is gray and its pale undersides and throat are streaked with black or brown. The similarly colored but smaller Wood Thrush, a relative of the Robin, has dark eyes and a short tail.

In the breeding season Brown Thrashers inhabit open brushy country, thickets, shelter belts, and other dense growth along streams and rivers, fences, forest and meadow edges, and even in the suburbs, in North America east of the Rocky Mountains. Winters are spent in the warmer southern part of this range.

While a related bird, the Mockingbird, is the state bird of a number of southern states, Georgia chose the Brown Thrasher. 

The Thrasher nest is made in a bush or on the ground or a low tree branch. The eggs are pale blue or white, and heavily brown-speckled. (Mockingbird eggs, also in low nests, have larger brown spots.)

Like other species in its family, the Thrasher imitates the songs of other birds, usually singing each one twice.

If you get a chance to see a Brown Thrasher, rather than just hear one, you may be able to watch it preen its feathers with its sturdy bill. Because this bird has more neck vertebrae than a giraffe, it can bend its neck to reach almost all parts of its body.