California Thrasher

Toxostoma redivivum
Range Map

The California Thrasher is most often found in sage-scrub and chaparral habitat in California and Baja California. From the hills near my Poway home, I am serenaded by these birds regularly. I find their songs are joyful. Their singing never fails to bring a smile to my face.

California Thrashers incorporate imitations of other bird songs into their own songs, especially songs and calls from their chaparral neighbors. California Quail, Wrentit, California Scrub-Jay, Bewick’s Wren, Nuttall’s Woodpecker, Spotted Towhee, and Lesser Goldfinch are all fair game to this impressionist entertainer.

Despite its relatively restricted range, science recognises two subspecies of California Thrasher:

  • T. r. redivivum lives south of Central California and into Baja California (Mexico).
  • T. r. sonomae lives in Northern California.

As with many chaparral-loving birds, California Thrashers prefer being near the ground. This is where they find their food, and where they feel safest. They use their long, curved bills to thrash through leaf litter. This is especially true in the breeding season, when insects comprise most of their food supply. When they aren’t raising families, they switch to a more vegetarian diet, and dine on native or garden-grown fruits.

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