Thrashers and the Evil Eye

The thrashers make up most of the species in the mimics; the Mimidae. Gray Catbird and the mockingbirds round out this noisy family. They are best known for their long and loud songs usually utilizing repeated phrases and sometimes copying the songs of nearby species. There are more thrashers in the southwestern US than anywhere else. The Gray Catbird is largely an eastern bird and is the only member of the group to reach into (by migration) Central America. South America has a mockingbird or two, but no thrashers. As a group they are medium-sized, short-winged, and rather long-tailed. The mostly forage on the ground for invertebrates though fruits are often taken as well.

The Brown Thrasher is a bird of the United States with only a modest incursion into Mexico in the winter and slightly into Canada in breeding season. It is found in the mid-west and east though it is not always an obvious member of the avian community. Here in Massachusetts we hear them singing only until they find a mate then they go quiet. Like most birds this size, the eggs hatch in about two weeks and the young fledge about two weeks later.
If you are lucky enough to have a pair in familiar shrubbery they may tame to your presence though they usually skulk. When the nestlings are hungry, growing, and demanding they will gather food all day. Food consists of bugs, caterpillars, beetles, daddy-longlegs and just about anything else they can locate. They gather food from the ground with infrequent flights, to a perch rarely ten feet off the ground. The nest is low in dense growth. 
The return to the nest, especially when carrying food, is often preceded by a brief stop at a modest elevation to look things over. I can imagine the furor if a Blue Jay, crow, or snake were seen – as thrashers will defend their nests and nestlings vigorously. 
The bright eye of the Brown Thrasher can give it a piercing and intense look. The above image shows the rather long legs and dark streaking on the underside.
While the pair of Brown Thrashers was gathering food there were two other species in the same area also gathering food. The bird above is a male American Robin and the bird below is a Chipping Sparrow. Both of these birds will nest in the same habitat of low dense brushy growth. The Chipping Sparrow is a bit more of a treetop bird and the robin is so widespread that is common in woodlands and suburban settings at all levels and in all vegetation.

So – what’s in your yard?

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