Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Brown Thrasher

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Mimidae | [latin] Toxostoma rufum | [UK] Brown Thrasher | [FR] Moqueur roux | [DE] Rote Spottdrossel | [ES] Cuitlacoche Rojizo | [NL] Rosse Spotlijster


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Toxostoma rufum NA c, e, se
Toxostoma rufum longicauda
Toxostoma rufum rufum

Physical charateristics

Adults have rufous upperparts and white underparts with a long, black tail. They have long, straight bills and yellow eyes. Males and females are alike in size and coloration. They are from 23.5 cm to 30.5 cm long, with wingspans of 9.4 to 11.1 cm long. The young appear the same except their upperparts are spotted and their eyes are gray. There are two sub-species, brown thrashers (T. rufum rufum) and long-billed thrashers (T.rufum longirostre). Long-billed thrashers are unique in their dull upperparts, gray head, orange eye, and long, straight bill.

Listen to the sound of Brown Thrasher

[audio: Thrasher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 10 cm wingspan max.: 12 cm
size min.: 25 cm size max.: 28 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 15 days
fledging min.: 9 days fledging max.: 15 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


North America : Central, East, Southeast


Brown thrashers are found in warm, dry habitats, such as warm forest edges and dense thickets. They are also found in suburban and agricultural areas.


When males arrive at the breeding grounds they establish a territory. In the southern parts of their range breeding starts in February and March, in the northern parts, breeding starts in May and June. Soon after this, pairs are formed and they begin to build a nest. Mates find each other with calls, most commonly using a call similar to a “tick” or “tchuck”. Once the bond is formed and the nest is built, the pair will mate.
Brown thrasher breeding seasons vary with geographic region. Birds in the southern region breed from February to March; while those in the northern region breed from May to June. Brown thrashers lay three to five eggs each breeding season. Incubation takes about two weeks, once the eggs have hatched, nestlings take from 9 to 13 days to fledge. Independence is reached 17 to 19 days later.

Feeding habits

Brown thrashers eat insects, primarily beetles and other arthropods, fruits, and nuts. They forage for food on the ground in leaf litter below trees and shrubs. These birds sweep the soil and leaf litter with rapid side-to-side movements that scatter leaves. After sweeping a few times, they will probe the soil and litter with their beaks


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Brown thrashers are found from southeastern Canada through eastern, central, and southeastern United States. Brown thrashers are the only thrasher species east of the Rocky Mountains and central Texas. During the breeding season brown thrashers primarily inhabit areas of southern Canada south to east central Texas. Migration is over short distances and at night. In winter, these birds migrate from the northern parts of their range into the southern parts of their range.
Brown Thrasher status Least Concern


Brown Thrashers overwinter in the southern United States east from Texas, throughout the Atlantic Coast, north to Maryland and southern New Jersey, and west to southern Illinois. In Minnesota, the species is a winter visitant, primarily in the south. The general migration period for the Brown Thrasher is from early March to early May, with the bulk from late March to late April. Fall migration usually begins in late August and continues to late November

Distribution map

Brown Thrasher distribution range map

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