California Thrasher

(Toxostoma redivivum)

But for its unusual looking long curved bill, the California Thrasher might seem like just another drab brown bird however it possesses several qualities that make it unique. California is the only US state in which it resides and its range does not extend much further south than Baja California. Of the Thrasher species found in the West it is the only one to be found along the California coast. Unfortunately with increasing urbanization it has disappeared from many coastal areas.

The California Thrasher belongs to the Mimidae family of bird which also includes the well-known mockingbird. Mimids are notable for their vocalization, with some species that have the ability to mimic the songs of other birds as well as other outdoor sounds. The California Thrasher is an expert mimic with a song that is a little less repetitious than its mockingbird cousin. It is the largest bird in the Mimidae family and unlike other Thrasher species it has dark-colored eyes. Its short wings and prominent curved bill gives it a slightly awkward appearance (one can't help wondering if this bird wasn't an inspiration for the muppet "Gonzo"). Its uses this bill to turn over leaf litter and excavate the soil to find an insect meal.

Although the California Thrasher is relatively common where it occurs, its populations have declined by about 35% between 1966 and 2015 (according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey). It appears on the 2016 State of North America's Birds' Watch List, which includes bird species that are most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions to reverse declines and reduce threats. The species rates a 16 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score.

Length: 12.6 inches.

Weight: 2.8 to 3.3 oz.

Wingspan: 12.2 inches.

Lifespan: The oldest recorded California Thrasher was at least 9 years, 2 months old when it was found and released in California in 2013 . Originally it was banded in California in 2005.

Diet consists of mostly insects, small invertebrates, and berries. Also eats seeds, acorns, and other plant material.

The California Thrasher is a permanent resident and is rarely found even short distances from its breeding area.

The male California Thrasher perches from the top of a tree or bush and sings to defend a nesting territory. His song usually includes imitations of other birds. Pairs may remain in their territory year round.

Nests are located in a dense shrub or brush less than 10' above the ground but usually 2-4' up. Both sexes build the nest which is usually constructed as a bulky open cup of sticks and twigs, lined with fine grass, weeds, rootlets, strips of bark, and other soft items.

Clutch size: 1 to 6 pale blue eggs with dark spots that may be uniformly distributed or form a ring around the large end of the egg.

Incubation: About 14 days. Eggs are incubated by both parent. Chicks are helpless at hatching and are fed by both parents.

Fledging: Chicks leave the nest after about 12-14 days and are unable to fly well for several more days.


  1. "California Thrasher, Life History". All about birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved November, 2016.
  2. "California Thrasher". Audubon Guide to North American Birds. Retrieved November, 2016.
  3. "California thrasher". Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved November, 2016.