The Captivating Curve-Billed Thrasher

16 Nov

The Captivating Curve-Billed Thrasher

Curved-Bill Thrasher

Curved-Bill Thrasher –

The Curve-billed Thrasher (Toxostoma curvirostre) is generally 10 to 12 inches long, slender in build with a long tail, and a long, curved, sickle-shaped bill. It is pale grayish-brown above with lighter-colored underparts that are vaguely streaked. The tips of the tail are streaked with white, and the sides of the tail are a darker color than its back. The eye of an adult is usually a vivid orange or red-orange, although immature birds have a yellow eye.

The Curve-billed Thrasher is commonly found throughout the deserts and brush-filled areas of the south-western United States, from about the Sonoran Desert of Arizona and across New Mexico to west Texas, as well as most of Mexico, from the Sonoran-Chihuahuan Deserts and south through the Mexican Plateau to regions south of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in south-central Mexico.

Curved-Bill Thrasher

Curved-Bill Thrasher –

This interesting bird often roosts in a tall tree or spiny vegetation, preferring a cactus. The nest is a loosely woven cup made of thorny twigs. The female lays 2 to 4 eggs, which are bluish-green and speckled with brown. The eggs are incubated by both sexes, and hatch after about thirteen days. The young will leave the nest after 14 to 18 days after hatching.

Curve-billed Thrashers feed on ground-dwelling insects, as well as seeds, and berries. It often pushes out Cactus Wrens in its area. This thrasher’s voice call is a sharp, liquid, whistle wet-WEET, or wet-WEET-wet. Its songs, on the other hand, when it takes a perch, perhaps at the top of a honey mesquite or a cholla cactus, are captivating improvisations that famed naturalist Roger Tory Peterson described as “a musical series of notes and phrases.” National Geographic characterized the curve-billed thrasher’s song as “long and elaborate, consisting of low trills and warbles, seldom repeating phrases.”

Although they fly very well, they will often run in a very fast, very amusing manner that is sure to bring a smile to your face. Their legs seem to vanish in a wild blur as the bird charges to its destination.

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Posted by on November 16, 2012 in Interesting Birds


2 responses to “The Captivating Curve-Billed Thrasher

  1. Hillary Hays

    November 25, 2012 at 5:38 pm Someone I follow on YouTube posted this video within the last week wondering about the identity of a bird they’d never seen before which they found in their yard in Pheonix, Arizona. The bird does look somewhat like a Curve-billed Thrasher, but the one seen in Phoenix looks to me like it is twice the size of the Thrasher, and that it’s beak is much thicker and far more formidable than that of the Thrasher you speak of above. What do you think? Maybe the one spotted in Phoenix is a mutated version of the Thrasher…there has been a lot of Fukushima radiation along the West Coast, many flower and other plant mutations consistent with radiation exposure, etc. Who knows, I’d just like to see this odd fellow identified!

    • saddlebums

      December 2, 2012 at 3:40 pm

      Hey Hillary – Thanks for the comment. I’m googling to try to find a larger version of the curved billed thrasher, but I’m plagued by very slow internet connections right now (via verizon smartphone). For the winter I’m located in the desert about 40 miles east of Phoenix where I see MANY curved bill thrashers. Some do look slightly larger and thicker billed than others, but not dramatically. I’ll keep trying to identify any larger “model”, and I’ll let you know if I find one.


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