Brown Thrasher Habits

Spring is the time you'll most likely see the Brown Thrasher. Not so much because of this bird's migratory patterns. Instead, habitat is most likely the cause.

These wary birds prefer dense thickets and woodland edges.

These birds are partial migrants. Populations that nest and breed farther North will move slightly Southward to find food while southern populations are year-round residents.

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. Males and females are 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.

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

Courtship display behavior is rarely seen by the average backyard bird watcher.

The courtship display of the male consists of him walking in circles around the female while dragging his tail along the ground.

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 Bird

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 for these birds to nest 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.

Brown Thrashers are very aggressive at defending the nesting site.

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

Incubation lasts 12 - 14 days. The young leave the nest in 9 to 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 tending to the young by himself if a second clutch is started.

Second nests are not common, but if unsuccessful with the first, second nesting attempts will happen.

Nests are reused from season to season, but they will remove the interior lining and replace it each time.

The nest won't be used a second time in the same season. Two broods each season may be attempted.

The Brown Thrasher Call Song

The Brown Thrasher is similar to a Mockingbird in that both birds can imitate various sounds.

Some birders consider the Thrasher as having a sweeter and fuller voice than Mockingbirds.

Best of all, Thrashers don't sing at night.

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 will 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 Birds

Predators include snakes and 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, and even humans if it feels threatened or if the young are at risk.

Sometimes uses the broken wing display to lure intruders away.


pioneer woman magazine
good housekeeping magazine
womans day magazine