Attracting Songbirds: Brown Thrashers

Brown thrashers are excellent mimics. They can sing more than 1,000 tunes. Learn more about these elusive songbirds and how to spot one near you.

THE SUBJECT
For fairly large birds (nearly 12 inches), brown thrashers are not that easy to spot. These elusive songbirds seek out dense thickets or tangled vegetation in the eastern U.S.

THE MARKINGS
The adult thrasher’s most striking feature is its glowing yellow eyes. Look for heavy brown streaking on the chest and deep rufous browns on the head and back. The bill is distinctive, too—long, with a slight downturn.

BACKYARD FAVORITES
Cover means everything to brown thrashers, so if you want to lure them to your yard, plant berry-producing shrubs that provide both food and shelter. They’ll also visit feeders, provided you place them on or near the ground.

NESTING HABITS
Unlike mating pairs of many species, both males and females select a nest site, incubate the eggs and feed the young. Babies leave the nest fully feathered, sometimes within nine days of hatching, earlier than most related species.

FASCINATING FACTS
Brown thrashers forage on the ground for insects buried in soil or leaf litter. As they walk, they make thrashing motions with their heads, tossing aside twigs or leaves that might be in the way of a meal.