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"Trapping Brook Road" by Chris Mattison

Dan Jordan’s Wild World: The Brown Thrasher

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At my home in Allegany, NY, wildlife abounds. We live on the fringes of our neighborhood and are blessed with tall trees, thick underbrush, and lots of great perches for birds. We have placed most of our bird feeders among the trees, so the birds feel safe from predators. We attract a large variety of birds and numerous species of mammals. This set up is ideal for a wildlife photographer and I take full advantage.

The subject of this week’s installment of “Wild World,” is the brown thrasher. The brown thrasher is not a common bird to see in WNY, but they are here in numbers. They tend to hide in the thick underbrush, out of view. One way to find a thrasher is to listen, as they are quite noisy rummaging through leaves and vegetation.

Brown thrashers are roughly the size of blue jays, perhaps a bit more rotund. They have a long bill which is curved downward slightly at the tip. Their bellies are white with a bold pattern of dark brown stripes. Their eyes are vividly colored yellow.

They are primarily ground foragers and can often be seen chasing and consuming insects. They are omnivores and will eat berries and seeds as well as insects.

Brown thrashers belong to the same Family (Mimidae) as mockingbirds and grey catbirds. Interestingly, the two photos included in this installment, were taken when this trasher was among two grey catbirds. They were foraging for insects together for over an hour. Any time there was a disturbance, like a car passing by, the three would rush into the brush and then come back out when the “coast was clear”.
To me, their most endearing feature is their vocalization. Like their mockingbird cousins, they mimic dozens of other birds as well as sing their own original pieces.

Their songs are beautifully sung. In the spring, when they’re most vocally active, I stand and listen in awe of their songs. Cornell Labs states that brown thrashers may sing more than 1100 different song types.

In 2021, we had resident brown thrashers which we heard and saw quite often. This year was a different story. My first sighting was August 25. The two photos included in this installment were taken from that encounter.

Dan Jordan owns Jordan Photography and Consulting in Olean NY, jordanphotog.com

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