Brown Thrasher

Toxostoma rufum

About This Animal

SIZE: 11.5 inches

RANGE: Midwest and Eastern United States and parts of southern Canada; common in summer here in Chattanooga

HABITAT: Likes brush, shrubbery, forest edges; often seen near human habitation

DIET: Insects, invertebrates, nuts, fruits

ON EXHIBIT: Delta Swamp and Cove Forest in River Journey

These birds are in the same family as Mockingbirds, and like their relatives, they often run on the ground to escape danger, rather than fly away. They raise their tails when running. They are an extremely aggressive defender of its nest, which is in thick brush anywhere from the ground up to 14 feet above the ground and has been known to strike people and pets hard enough to draw blood (while defending their nest) - just protecting those babies. They are mainly foragers, searching through leaf debris on the ground for insects and nuts, using their long beaks to toss aside the debris

Their population is fairly stable, although it may be declining slightly due to changing landscapes in the Eastern US (shrublands maturing) and in the Great Plains (losing fence rows in farmland) and plant brush between fields which give the birds cover so they don’t have to cross miles of open land where predators can see them.