The First Brown Thrasher’s Song

Late this morning – a cool, dark, cloudy day – a Brown Thrasher sang from the top of a bare tree along one of the roads through our neighborhood. It was the first Brown Thrasher I’ve heard singing this season. A series of paired phrases that includes the mimicked voices of many other birds, its song is always one of our earliest harbingers of spring. Unlike a Mockingbird, a Brown Thrasher almost always repeats each phrase twice, then moves to another, so that the rhythm of its singing is more deliberate and less fluid and artistic – though its repertoire may be much larger. Brown Thrashers are known to have one of the largest repertoires of all North American birds, including more than 1,000 different song types.

During the fall and winter, Brown Thrashers – which are residents here year-round – seem so shy they’re often comical. A fairly good-size bird with handsome brown coloring, a long tail and a long, curved bill, it looks as if it should be bold – but instead, it lurks beneath the bushes, ventures out only cautiously, and flees back into hiding at the least hint of danger. But when it sings, it seems to throw caution to the winds, perching in the highest top of a tree.

Although the species accounts I’ve found say that Brown Thrashers sing for only a short period of time in the spring while they’re mating and establishing territories, they usually start to sing here in mid February and more than a few may still be singing well into June.

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