Brown Thrasher

Toxostoma rufum

Brown Thrashers are accomplished singers. By most accounts, they can sing more than 1,100 different song types including imitations of other birds. This seems remarkable (and it is). But a check in the 2023 Guinness World Records shows the champion is actually the Red-Eyed Vireo as the record-holder. Singing 22,197 songs in a single 10-hour period, I can not imagine there could be a challenger to this feat.

Brown Thrashers are great parents. Males and females both help incubate and feed their offspring. Nestlings will leave the nest fully feathered within nine days of hatching. This is earlier than their smaller relatives, Northern Mockingbirds and Gray Catbirds. The dense brush habitats they prefer for nesting are good places for nest predators to hang out. This could explain why these thrashers fledge so young.

Taxonomists recognise two Brown Thrasher subspecies.

  • T. r. rufum breeds east of the Great Plains from western Ontario and eastern Minnesota south to Oklahoma and southeast Texas. They spend winters in the southeastern United States from Oklahoma east to North Carolina and south to the Gulf of Mexico. Occasionally, these birds have been sighted in Cuba and west, possibly to Arizona.
  • T. r. longicauda breeds in the western Great Plains from Alberta east to North Dakota and south to northwest Texas and central Oklahoma. They spend winters in Oklahoma and south to southern Texas and east along the Gulf Coast to Florida.

I first thought I had met Brown Thrashers in south Texas in the spring of 2020. But I had mistaken the similar looking Long-Billed Thrasher for the Brown. It was not until 2023, when I was visiting friends in Pennsylvania that I met legitimate Brown Thrashers. Later, as I explored the Appalachian Mountains at Virginia’s Sky Meadows State Park, I met more of these striking birds. Finally, as I reached the end of my tour of the Appalachians, I found them as I crossed out of Alabama into Mississippi.

Range Map for Brown Thrasher
Range Map

19 Photos

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