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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Brown Thrasher -- Toxostoma rufum

RANGE: Breeds from southeastern Alberta east to New England and south to Colorado, northern and eastern Texas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Florida. Winters in the south from Texas eastward, ranging north in the Mississippi Valley to Illinois and along the Atlantic Coast to Massachusetts. Rare visitor as far west as the Pacific Coast in migration and winter.

STATUS: Common in parts of its range.

HABITAT: During summer, inhabits dry thickets in wooded and farming country, brushy pastures, second-growth woods, fencerows, brier patches, roadsides, and sometimes shrubbery of gardens.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Low, dense, woody vegetation for nesting and cover.

NEST: Builds a bulky nest in any of a variety of shrubs (usually thorny) or low trees, up to 14 feet from the ground, but sometimes on the ground under a small shrub.

FOOD: Gleans food from the ground or in shrubs. In spring, eats almost entirely insects, spiders and worms; in summer and fall, eats mostly fruits, mast (mainly acorns), and waste corn.

REFERENCES: DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Kaufman in Farrand 1983c, Terres 1980.

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