Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Return of Mr. Thrasher

I visit with the birds on the side of the house three or four times a day. It is my peace. I speak with them, toss them some seed, listen to their songs. Mrs. Thrasher and I have similar interests. She likes to sit on the side of the wall and watch the sparrows while Mr. Thrasher flies about the neighborhood.

To be honest, I'm not sure if it's Mr. or Mrs., but I'm assuming it is Mrs. Thrasher sitting on the wall. The curve-billed thrasher is 10 to 12 inches long, generally slender though they puff up a bit when it's cold and breezy, with a long tail and a long, curved, sickle-shaped bill. It is grayish-brown on the wings with a lighter, slightly streaked body. Its tail is streaked with white and the sides of the tail are darker than its back. It has a deep orange or reddish-orange eye, as you may have noticed from the pictures I post to the right.

The curve-billed thrasher mates for life and both male and female work together to care for the nest and young. Thrashers lay two to four blue eggs, generally in spiny brush--which is where they live on the side of my house--or in cactus. They eat bugs and seeds, and we have plenty of both in my yard, but this time of year, it's mostly seeds that I provide.

One of the thrashers has been missing for a bit. It's possible I simply did not see him as I generally count the birds at the same time every day. Today, however, I counted in the morning, and he was there, which made me very happy!

However, I noticed something interesting during my minor panic over Mr. Thrasher's possible disappearance. I went back through my photographs and noticed another bird, a bird that appears to be a curve-billed thrasher. There is something different about this bird, though. It's eyes are yellow, and its breast seems lighter. I think it's beak might also be straighter, which would mean it is either a juvenile curve-billed thrasher or a Bendire's thrasher, which is vulnerable to extinction. Either way, I need to do further documentation of the thrashers who live on the side of my house. My count is clearly off. I have three, not two. What I need is a better picture of the yellow-eyed bird!

As a special treat, I also had a visit from two great-tailed grackles--lovely!

No comments: