Easter thrasher


Easter Thrasher from Dave Bonta on Vimeo.

Not too many folks online today, but for those who do happen by, here’s a little video I shot on Friday and today. For some reason, the first brown thrasher to return to the hollow often really likes singing from the top of a small, nondescript walnut tree that pokes out of the barberry hedge next to the shed.

As I’ve mentioned here in the past, brown thrashers are close relatives to mockingbirds and catbirds, and like their cousins, go in for extreme vocal improvisation. The thrasher can be easily distinguished from the others, however, by its tendency to repeat almost every phrase. I like to think of it as a compulsive rhymer.

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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave's writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the "share alike" provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

13 Comments


  1. A compulsive rhymer? Most definitely, then, my totem.

    Did I hear a “wocka wocka”?

    Cornell claims that Illinois is within its summer breeding range, but I’ve neither seen nor heard. Perhaps they’ve been routed by the catbirds, whose numbers have skyrocketed in the past five years.

    I always envision catbirds as a transitional form, with grab-bag DNA like the platypus.

    Reply

    1. I am not sure that they are directly competing with catbirds for habitat; we’ve always had both. The published habitat descriptions sound pretty similar, I’ll admit, but here on the mountain, the catbird seems to prefer open areas (mainly the yard), while the thrashers nest in brushy edges and blowdowns. But maybe they are being out-competed for more marginal habitat, if the catbirds are ultimately more flexible.

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  2. Lots of thrashers in this area. Spent some time today counting the songs in a mockingbird’s repertoire. Seven, I think it was.

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    1. People have recorded more than 2000 unique riffs in a row from a single thrasher. They are the most inventive of all our eastern birds.

      It’s just a little too cold for mockingbirds here on the mountain, I guess. But given their penchant for singing at night, I can’t say I regret that.

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  3. Kia ora Dave,
    Beautiful, they remind somewhat of our Tui which are also mimickers, some even known to repeat words. They sing outside my window now having responded to the loud volume I turned your video up to. Very cool. Happy Easter.
    Cheers,
    Robb

    Reply

    1. Hey, it’s nice to think of thrasher music being heard and perhaps even imitated by other avian improvisationists on the other side of the world! Happy Easter to you, too.

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  4. Hello — I’m new to your blog and bowled over. Can’t wait to read more.

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  5. Hi Dave — I especially enjoyed seeing the thrasher’s beak move. That sounds a little strange, but while I hear very well, I don’t see all that well, and so in the midst of our woods full of birdsong, I don’t usually get to see their lips (uh, beaks) move. Thanks!

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    1. Actually, that’s what I liked about it too, for the same reason. My new 48x camcorder is pretty good for details like that — especially if I remember the tripod, which was the case with the Easter portion, but not with the Good Friday portion, whence the shake.

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  6. This brown thrasher actually says, among many other things, “tweet tweet”. The original?
    Watching it clutch the branch when the wind rose brought this viewer up very close to the bird’s life, seeing it like a sailor in high seas. Then that “know when to fold ’em” when it decided it was time to fly off – I liked that. Very nice.

    Reply

    1. Glad you liked it! I don’t know it that’s the original “tweet tweet,” but it does have something to do with why I decided to post it: the very next post coming up is about Twitter.

      Reply

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