April 10, 2021
Several weeks ago, I mentioned the competition between the Mockingbird and Cardinal over the Snowball Bush in our front yard. The Cardinal seems to have given up but now there is new competition. I have noticed a medium sized brown bird flitting in the bush or along the ground nearby as I come into the driveway. It took a while to finally get a photo of the Mockingbird and the same is true with this elusive bird. I would drive in and he would take off, or I would reach for my camera and he was gone. Today I saw him near the bush and happened to have my phone in my pocket. I snapped him from inside the house as he rummaged for insects on the ground.
The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a bird in the family Mimidae, which includes the New World catbirds and mockingbirds. The Brown Thrasher is abundant throughout the eastern and central United States and southern and central Canada, and it is the only thrasher to live primarily east of the Rockies and central Texas. The bird is relatively larger than other thrashers. It has brown upper parts with a white under part with dark streaks and is often confused with the smaller wood thrush (Hylocichla mustelina), among other species. When I took the picture, I told Melissa I had finally gotten my elusive thrush. Instead, I got my thrasher.
When I found the bird online the site said that like Mockingbirds, Thrashers are prolific songbirds. While the mockingbirds sing around 20 different songs (mocked from other species), the Brown Thrasher is noted for having over 1000 song types. This is the largest song repertoire of any birds. The bird is an omnivore, with a diet ranging from insects to fruits and nuts. The usual nesting areas are shrubs or small trees. Another characteristic the thrasher shares with the mockingbird is they are both highly territorial. While they are generally inconspicuous and elusive, they will attack, especially when defending their nests. These attacks have been seen on animals as large as humans. I am not sure whether it is better to be divebombed by a mockingbird or a thrasher.
Thoughts: The Audubon site indicates thrashers are common to Arkansas and are permanent residents in the south but are mostly migratory in the north. They are generally an eastern bird, except for a few strays from fall to spring when the weather is cooler. The Audubon site adds another feature at the bottom of each bird description page on how climate change might affect the bird’s range. An average increase of 3C will result in a loss of 87% of the thrashers current range, while it will gain an additional 36% of range in Canada. Basically, the elusive bird will become nonexistent in most of America as it moves north. Scientists tell us most of the greenhouse gasses come from two sources, automobile engines (CO2 or carbon dioxide) and corporate farming (CH4 or methane). Methane is also being released as the frozen tundra of the Arctic thaws. We know how to fix the problem; we just need to act. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.