Our Daily Concert: The Brown Thrasher


For the last several weeks at some point during the day, or sometimes most of the day, we heard beautiful music from our back yard. We hear a lot of wonderful songs this time of year, from Cardinals, Mockingbirds, and other bird residents and visitors to the wood thicket just behind our fence, along the creek. At first, I thought this one might be a Northern Mockingbird, but this sounded different, louder and with more projection. While sitting on the deck a week ago I heard the well-projected songs again, and at the top of the tallest tree sat a Brown Thrasher, beak parted.

This past Sunday I sat out reading, camera at hand, hoping for the daily visit. The Northern Cardinal provided entertainment, but no thrasher. Later I returned to my chair with the book, and within minutes the music started. I grabbed the camera, and took a couple of shots through the screen. Yes, they were terrible. OK for identification shots, but I already identified the bird. Living on a creek, we have our entire deck and pool area screened. We love the birds, reptiles, mammals and insects who visit our yard, well, maybe not the mosquitoes, but prefer to keep our living areas separate.

I slowly went out the side door, and raised the lens. At first he stopped, and tilted his head in my direction looking at me. The Canon 400mm fully extended attracts attention, and often I end up with the tail section of my photo subject. This time, he decided neither me nor the lens posed any threat, and continued.

The Brown Thrasher is a member of the Mimid family of birds which also includes Northern Mockingbirds and Gray Catbirds. Both are also visitors to our tiny yard, catbirds during their winter stay and mockingbirds year around. They all improvise their songs, often mimicking other birds. According to the Stokes guide, in general the catbirds repeat phrases once, the thrasher twice, and the mockingbird three times or more. I’ll listen more closely next visit.

Notice the whiskers and the red-tipped tongue!

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