Brown ThrasherToxostoma rufum

Glenn Bartley/VIREO
Hugh P. Smith, Jr. & Susan C. Smith/VIREO
Garth McElroy/VIREO
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
adult male
Johann Schumacher/VIREO
Brown Thrasher


11 1/2" (29 cm). Rufous-brown above, white below with dark brown streaks. Curved bill, long tail; yellow eye. See Long-billed Thrasher.


A variety of musical phrases, each repeated twice; call a sharp smack!


teeyoo & smack calls
smack calls
song #2
song #1


Thickets, fields with scrub, and woodland borders.


Breeds from southeastern Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and northern New England south to Gulf Coast and Florida. Winters in southern part of breeding range.


Brown Thrashers may be confused with thrushes but are larger, have longer tails, and are streaked (not spotted) below. They belong to the same family as the Mockingbird but, unlike that species, are retiring and secretive. They often feed on the ground, scattering dead leaves with their beaks as they search for insects. In recent years they have become scarce in much of their range; no one knows why.


4 or 5 pale blue, brown-dotted eggs in a large, coarsely built nest of twigs, leaves, and rootlets lined with grass. The nest is usually near the ground in a dense, often thorny bush.

Similar Species


Wood Thrush

8" (20 cm). Starling-sized. Brown above, bright rusty color on head, and white below with large blackish spots. Other brown thrushes have finer spotting on breast.


Sage Thrasher

8 1/2" (22 cm). Brown-gray above, buff below with conspicuous black streaks; bill strongly curved; tail relatively short with white patches in corners; 2 white wing bars (often worn away by spring).


Bendire's Thrasher

9-11" (23-28 cm). Robin-sized. A grayish-brown, short-billed thrasher of desert thickets.

adult, Western

Curve-billed Thrasher

9 1/2 -11 1/2" (24-29 cm). Pale gray-brown with long tail and strongly down-curved bill. Breast faintly spotted; eyes yellow to orange. See Bendire's Thrasher.


Long-billed Thrasher

11" (28 cm). Jay-sized. Rufous-brown above, white below with blacks streaks. Curved bill, long tail.


Yellow-billed Cuckoo

10 1/2-12 1/2" (27-32 cm). Jay-sized. A slender, long-tailed bird, brown above and white below, with large white spots on underside of tail and a flash of rufous in wings.


Black-billed Cuckoo

12" (30 cm). Very similar to Yellow-billed Cuckoo; brown above, white below, but bill entirely black, wings brown, much less white at tips of tail feathers. Narrow red eye ring.


Mangrove Cuckoo

12" (30 cm). Brown above, rich buff or tawny below, with black facial mask; curved bill. Tail long and graduated, with black-and-white spots at tip.


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