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Species Description

Brown Thrasher

Toxostoma rufum

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Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Mimidae


Rusty-brown above; buffy under parts with streaking; faint buffy wing bars; yellow eye. 29 cm (11.5 in) in length. The bill is long and curved downward at the tip. The tail is long. The song includes various phrases repeated two or three times.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in late March, peaks in May, and extends through July. The nest is usually on the ground or up to 1 m (5 feet) high in shrubs or bushes. The cup-shaped nest is built by both the male and female out of twigs, dead leaves, and other vegetation. The female lays 2-6 (usually 4-5) eggs that both adults incubate for 11-14 days. The young are altricial and fledge 9-13 days after hatching. Both adults brood and care for young until they fledge and for a short period after fledging.

Natural History

Preferred habitat of the Brown Thrasher is shrubby vegetation or any dense understory. It is commonly seen in residential areas and overgrown fields. This species eats a variety of food including insects, invertebrates, small vertebrates, fruits, and nuts. It finds its food by using its bill to move the leaf litter and ground debris.


Brown Thrasher Region Map The Brown Thrasher occurs throughout most of the eastern half of the United States, including the North during the breeding season and the South all year. In the Southeast it is common in most areas except the southern Appalachians and extreme southern Florida. It can be seen throughout Georgia, but is more common in the southern and central portions of the state.

Conservation Status

This species is occasionally a host for the Brown-headed Cowbird. Raising this other bird's young instead of or in addition to its own is probably not beneficial to this species. However, the Brown Thrasher is not listed as Threatened or Endangered in any part of the Southeast.

Similar Species

The most similar species in the South is the Long-billed Thrasher, although their range barely overlaps. The Long-billed Thrasher is found throughout the year in the southern portion of Texas. The Long-billed Thrasher has a gray head and neck which the Brown Thrasher lacks and also has a longer bill. A more common species which at a glance can appear similar to the Brown Thrasher is the Wood Thrush. The Wood Thrush has a shorter bill, shorter tail, dark eye, and lacks wing bars.