Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Brown Thrashers Starting a New Nest?

This morning a Brown Thrasher was singing again, for the first time in a while. It sang from the top of a pecan tree on the edge of our yard – one of its favorite spots when it was singing so often earlier this spring. This time, though, it did not sing long.

After only two or three minutes, it flew down to the ground beside a hedge of wax myrtles and was joined there by another Brown Thrasher that I think was a female. The male picked up a leaf and flew with it up to a branch in one of the shrubs. At that point, I was distracted by something else and did not see what happened. A few minutes later, I heard the Brown Thrasher singing again, but it was singing from a low branch in an unusually soft, muted voice – the same song, but quite different from his usual style.

The species account for Brown Thrasher in Birds of North America* says that the male “also produces [a] ‘soft courtship song’ which is identical to the primary song but with drastically reduced amplitude given when a female is close by.” So our Brown Thrasher pair may be starting a new nest. I think their first nest was successful because on at least one occasion I saw three Thrashers feeding in the grass together.

*Cavitt, John F. and Carola A. Hass. 2000 Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.) Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology.


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