Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Jim Parrish
Photo Copyright Jim Parrish

The crissal thrasher, Toxostoma crissale, occurs in the southwestern United States (western Texas, southern New Mexico, southern Arizona, southeastern California, extreme southern Nevada, and extreme southwestern Utah) and northwestern Mexico south through the highlands of central Mexico. In Utah, it inhabits southern Washington County, and perhaps extreme southwestern Kane County, in the southwestern corner of the state. It does not migrate. This species prefers dense brushy habitats in arid regions, including dry washes, riparian thickets, and foothill scrub situations.

The nest is usually constructed in a dense shrub, typically about three to eight feet above the ground. The clutch normally consists of two to three eggs, which are incubated for fourteen days. Another eleven to thirteen days are required for fledging. Both parents share all aspects of nesting, including nest-building, incubation of eggs, and feeding of young.

The diet of the crissal thrasher consists mainly of insects and other arthropods, but it also consumes seeds, fruits, and berries. Typically it feeds on the ground, usually under shrubs, where it finds prey by turning litter and digging and probing with its bill.

The crissal thrasher is mostly a uniform grayish brown, with a long, dark tail and a very long, decurved bill. One of the most distinctive characteristics of its appearance is its rusty crissum or undertail feathers, and it is this characteristic that is the source of its name.


  • Cody, M. L. 1999. Crissal thrasher. Birds of North America 419: 1–26

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