Brown Thrasher Habits

Spring is the time you'll most likely see the Brown Thrasher. Not so much because of this birds migratory patterns, instead, habitat is most likely the cause. These birds prefer dense thickets and woodland edges.

These birds are partial migrants. Meaning, populations that nest and breed farther North will move a bit Southward to find food while southern populations are year-round residents where food is always available.

What They Look Like

Brown Thrasher on Powerline

Brown Thrasher

About 9 - 12 inches in length, with reddish-brown upper parts, heavily streaked with black below. A long tail, 2 white wing bars, and pale-yellow eyes. Male and female similar in appearance.

The Brown Thrasher is the only Thrasher East of the Rockies and covers the entire eastern part of the US.

Mating Habits

The breeding season begins in may and can run through June.

As spring begins, the male Brown Thrasher arrives first. Claiming territory and choosing perches from which to sing from.

Within 10 days the females arrive and the males begin their loud sweet song in order to attract a mate.

Rarely seen by the average backyard bird watcher, the male may walk in circles around the female while dragging his tail along the ground as part of his courtship.

The female may pick up sticks as a sign of her willingness to pair with the male. Nest building begins as soon as the pair bond is formed.

Brown Thrasher Nesting Habits

fledgling brown thrasher

Fledgling Brown Thrasher

Both male and female birds share in the nest building process. The cup shaped nest is constructed with an exterior of twigs, grass, and leaves.

It's common to these birds nesting in shrubs that have thorns.

The inside of the nest is lined with fine grasses and rootlets. The nest is placed anywhere from the ground up to 15 feet in height. Most often found in thorny shrubs.

Brown Thrasher's are very aggressive at defending the nesting site.

An average clutch of 4 eggs are laid. Eggs are variable in shape and color, generally a light blue with dark marks. Incubation is done by both male and female.

Incubation last 12 - 14 days. Fledging generally 9 - 12 days after hatching which is quick for birds of this size.

The female will help feed the fledglings for just a few days sometimes beginning a second nest. The male will continue care for the young a while longer if a second clutch is started. Second nest are not common but if unsuccessful with first, second nesting attempts will happen.

Nest are commonly reused from season to season but they will remove the interior lining and replace it each year of use. The nest won't be used a second time in the same season.

Usually 2 broods each season are attempted.

Brown Thrasher Singing Multiple Songs

Brown Thrasher Feeding Habits

Brown Thrashers forage on the ground looking for food. Tossing leaves to look for insects to eat is one of the ways it's thought to have gotten its name.

Most of the diet of the thrasher is insects. These birds also eat wild berries, snakes, tree frogs, and lizards.

You can attract Brown Thrashers during the nesting season by providing Suet in a suet feeder

Predators of Brown Thrasher

Predators include snakes, domestic cats. Eggs can be destroyed by Blue Jays and Catbirds. Brown Thrashers are aggressive towards intruders.

Known to use its strong bill to attack snakes, birds, cats, dogs, even humans if it feels threatened or near young.

Sometimes uses the broken wing display to lure intruders away.


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