Common Name
LE CONTE'S THRASHER

Scientific Name
TOXOSTOMA LECONTEI

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Le Conte's thrasher, Toxostoma lecontei, occurs in extreme northwestern Mexico (parts of Sonora and Baja California) and the southwestern United States (parts of Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah). In Utah, it is known only from the Beaver Dam Slope area in the extreme southwestern corner of the state, where it occurs in small numbers. It is a bird of desert scrub habitats. This species does not migrate.

The nest is constructed about two to four feet above the ground and is usually placed in a cactus or spiny shrub. This species typically lays three or four eggs, which require about fifteen days of incubation before hatching. Both parents participate in nest-building, incubation of the eggs, and care for the young. Fledging takes place about fifteen days after hatching. Nesting of this species in Utah is suspected but has not yet (as of late 1999) been confirmed.

Le Conte's thrasher feeds mainly on arthropods such as insects, but also consumes some plant matter such as seeds. It finds most food items by digging with its bill under litter beneath desert vegetation, but also locates prey such as grasshoppers on open ground and sometimes gleans insects from the vegetation.

Le Conte's thrasher is a rather uniformly plain, pale gray bird with a long, dark tail and a long, decurved bill, but little in the way of noticeable or distinctive markings. The species was discovered around 1850 in Arizona by John L. Le Conte, an entomologist and independently wealthy physician who never practiced medicine, and is named in his honor. There was, however, another John Le Conte, also a nineteenth century American physician, in whose honor some other animals have been named; the two Dr. John Le Contes were first cousins.

Sources:

  • Sheppard, J. M. 1996. Le Conte’s thrasher. Birds of North America 230: 1–23.

  • 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.

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