Common Name

Scientific Name

View Utah Distribution Map

Photo by Unknown Photographer
Photo Courtesy of Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The brown thrasher, Toxostoma rufum, is a bird of eastern North America, east of the continental divide. Seemingly it has extended its range into Utah. Though still rare in Utah, it is perhaps becoming more common and widespread, being reported from scattered localities throughout the state. In the main, eastern part of its range, birds in the north migrate south, mainly to the Gulf and Atlantic states, while those in the south may not migrate. Whether brown thrashers in Utah make seasonal movements is not known. This species inhabits brushy areas, forest edges and clearings, and urban areas such as parks.

Although it has been speculated, based on summer observations, that this species may breed in Utah, nesting has not yet been reported (as of late 1999) in this state. The nest is usually situated at or below five feet in a small tree or among tangled vines and often is on the ground. The clutch normally consists of four or five eggs, which are incubated for eleven to fourteen days. The young fledge nine to thirteen days after hatching. Both parents participate in all phases of care of the young, including nest-building and incubation.

Brown thrashers are omnivorous, feeding on insects and other invertebrates, berries, fruit, and occasionally even small vertebrates. They glean prey from foliage and often forage on the ground, using their bills to dig and to turn leaf litter in search of prey.

This species is reddish brown above, including its long tail, and heavily streaked below. It has the largest vocal repertoire of any North American bird, more than 1,100 song types having been documented.


  • 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.

  • Behle, W. H., E. D. Sorensen, and C. M. White. 1985. Utah birds: a revised checklist. Utah Museum of Natural History, University of Utah, Salt Lake City. vi + 108 pp.