Crissal Thrasher

Toxostoma crissale
Range Map

These secretive birds live in the desert south-west and northern Mexico. They prefer mesquite thickets as their habitat. Desert washes in the Southwestern USA, from Southeastern California to West Texas and Central Mexico host this thrasher. Like the roadrunners it shares most of its range with, the Crissal Thrasher prefers running to flying when navigating its territory. Despite its cousin, the Long-Billed Thrasher’s name, both the Crissal and the California Thrasher sport much longer bills. They use their bills like rakes, thrashing the undergrowth in search of insects and spiders, but will take seeds and fruit if the opportunity presents itself.

The Crissal Thrasher had long been a nemesis bird for me when I attempted to collect images in California. My efforts there were utter failures. It took a trip to Henderson Nevada to get my first recognisable shots, but I don’t consider those as successful efforts. It wasn’t until much later, while visiting New Mexico and again in Arizona, that I captured images I was satisfied with.

Present day science recognises four subspecies of Crissal Thrasher:

  • T. c. crissale lives in the southwestern USA, from Utah to southeastern California and southern Arizona, New Mexico, west Texas, and south to north-central Mexico.
  • T. c. trinitatis lives in northwestern Mexico.
  • T. c. coloradense lives in the southwestern USA, from the lower Colorado River in southeastern California and southwestern Arizona, south to northwestern Mexico.
  • T. c. dumosum lives in central Mexico.

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