Common Name

Scientific Name

Photo by Jim Bailey, Utah Nature Photography
Photo Copyright Jim Bailey

The sage thrasher, Oreoscoptes montanus, breeds in sagebrush communities in the western United States, and winters in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. In Utah, the species nests in greasewood and sagebrush communities in low elevation deserts throughout the state.

Sage thrashers forage on the ground for insects and berries. These birds spend the majority of their time on the ground, but males will move to an elevated perch in order to sing. Males engage in a flight courtship display to impress the females, and a monogamous pair bond is formed. Pairs build a bulky nest in a concealed location, usually in sagebrush or on the ground, using twigs and grasses. Then, both parents incubate their four eggs for about two weeks. The young are born blind and naked, and both parents feed the nestlings.

The sage thrasher is a member of the mockingbird family. Thrashers and mockingbirds have complex songs that often contain elements of other birds' songs.


  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birderís handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.

  • National Geographic Society. 1996. Field guide to the birds of North America, 2nd edition. The National Geographic Society, Washington, D. C.

  • Hayward, C. L., Cottam, C., Woodbury, A. M., and H. H. Frost. 1976. Birds of Utah. In Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs, No. 1 (Wood, S. L. and K. T. Harper, eds.). Brigham Young University, Provo, UT.