If you spy a rusty-brown bird hopping along a forest or thicket floor, using its bill to scoop under leaves and toss them up, you’re probably watching a brown thrasher. The birds “thrash” through leaves in search of beetles, crickets, spiders, caterpillars, and other insects.
Look for a robin-sized bird with an extended tail, curved bill, rusty-brown back, and creamy-white belly with brown streaks. Its eyes are bright yellow.
Listen for the distinctive hop-hop-hop-flip sounds of a hunting thrasher. Thrashers make occasional hard chack calls as they feed.
Enjoy the thrasher’s beautiful song—a lovely series of short couplets (verses in pairs). As members of the mockingbird family, thrashers also mimic other birds.
Promote thrasher habitat. Let a brushy corner go, or allow a hedge to grow wider.
Understand the thrasher’s food needs. In spring and summer, thrashers feed chiefly on insects. In fall, the diet switches to berries and fallen fruit.
Did you know that there are three ways to differentiate a thrasher from the similar-looking wood thrush? Thrashers have yellow eyes (the thrush’s are black), a streaked breast (not spotted) and a long tail.