Photo: B. Steele/Vireo

LeConte's Thrasher

Toxostoma lecontei

As pale as desert sand is this wraith of the arid saltbush flats. It seldom flies unless closely pressed, instead running about with great speed on the open ground, its tail cocked up above its back. For many years after its discovery, Le Conte's Thrasher was considered a rare bird, because it lives in desert so barren and forbidding that few people would have thought to seek birds there.
Conservation status Has disappeared from some areas where irrigation has converted desert to farmland. Still common in appropriate habitat.
Family Mockingbirds and Thrashers
Habitat Desert flats with sparse growth of saltbush. Lives in more open habitats than other thrashers, on dry flats with only scattered low shrubs. Found especially in areas of sparse saltbush, also on creosote bush flats in some areas; mainly where there are a few slightly larger mesquites or cholla cactus.
As pale as desert sand is this wraith of the arid saltbush flats. It seldom flies unless closely pressed, instead running about with great speed on the open ground, its tail cocked up above its back. For many years after its discovery, Le Conte's Thrasher was considered a rare bird, because it lives in desert so barren and forbidding that few people would have thought to seek birds there.
Photo Gallery
Feeding Behavior

Forages almost entirely on the ground, walking and running rapidly on bare open soil. Finds much of its food by digging in the soil with its bill.


Eggs

3-4, sometimes 2. Pale greenish blue, lightly dotted with brown. Incubation is by both parents, about 15 days. Young: Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 13-17 days after hatching. 2 broods per year, perhaps rarely 3.


Young

Both parents feed nestlings. Young leave nest about 13-17 days after hatching. 2 broods per year, perhaps rarely 3.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet is not known in detail, but feeds mainly on insects, including grasshoppers, ants, beetles, and many others. Also eats spiders, centipedes, and other arthropods, and sometimes small lizards; eats a few berries and seeds.


Nesting

May mate for life. Pairs remain together at all seasons on permanent territories. In courtship, male may present female with twig or insect. Male sings to defend territory, beginning in mid-winter; nesting may begin in February or even January, but lasts until June in some areas. Nest: Usually placed less than 5' above the ground. Low, dense cholla cactus favored as nest sites; will also nest in saltbush, mesquite, or other low shrubs. Nest (built by both sexes) is a bulky open cup of thorny twigs, lined with rootlets, leaves, plant fibers, sometimes with softer inner lining of plant down.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Probably permanent resident, although it has been recorded in some parts of range only in breeding season.

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Migration

Probably permanent resident, although it has been recorded in some parts of range only in breeding season.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Song is a loud, rich melody recalling that of a California Thrasher, but less harsh and with infrequent repetition of phrases. Calls are a rising whit and tu-weep.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the LeConte's Thrasher

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

Climate threats facing the LeConte's Thrasher

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.

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