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Songbirds of North Dakota

Mimic Thrushes

Family Mimidae

Mimic thrushes belong to the family Mimidae which is derived from the Latin word mimus, meaning "to mimic". Eleven species are found in North America and include the mockingbirds, thrashers, and catbird. In North Dakota, one can expect to see only the gray catbird and brown thrasher. These birds are fine singers and often mimic calls of the other birds, and even inanimate objects such as rusty gates.

Brown Thrasher
Toxostoma rufum

JPG -- Picture and Range Map of Species

The brown thrasher is a rust colored bird with a pale breast spotted with dark brown. It has a long, rust-colored tail, bright yellow eyes, and a slightly down-curved bill. It is about 10-12 inches in length with short rounded wings. Both the male and the female are similar in appearance. The thrasher is relatively shy but can often be found in proximity to humans. It prefers heavy thickets, hedgerows, brushy pastures, and woods.

The bird feeds on or near the ground among fallen leaves or branches, searching for beetles, grubs, worms, and caterpillars. It will also eat small snakes, tree frogs, and berries. Nests are large and usually found low in trees and constructed of layers of twigs and dead leaves. Eggs are white or pale blue and spotted with brown and normally number four to five.

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