Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Long-billed Thrasher

Toxostoma longirostre

A tropical relative of the Brown Thrasher, this species enters our area only in southern Texas. There it is a common permanent resident of native woodland and thickets, foraging on the ground under dense cover, often singing from a hidden position within the brush. When Brown Thrashers move into southern Texas in winter, the two species of thrashers maintain separate wintering territories.
Conservation status Undoubtedly declined in southern Texas with initial clearing of brushland and river woods for agriculture. Still common in remaining habitat.
Family Mockingbirds and Thrashers
Habitat Woodland undergrowth, mesquites. In Texas, found in the brushy undergrowth of native woodlands of hackberry, acacia, ebony, and other trees, especially near water, and in dense thickets of mesquite and other thorny shrubs. In Mexico, lives in various kinds of woodland and semi-open areas.
A tropical relative of the Brown Thrasher, this species enters our area only in southern Texas. There it is a common permanent resident of native woodland and thickets, foraging on the ground under dense cover, often singing from a hidden position within the brush. When Brown Thrashers move into southern Texas in winter, the two species of thrashers maintain separate wintering territories.
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Feeding Behavior

Does much foraging on the ground, using its long bill to flip dead leaves aside as it rummages in the leaf-litter for insects; also will use its bill to dig in soil within an inch of the surface. Perches in shrubs and trees to eat berries.


Eggs

3-4, sometimes 2-5. Pale blue to bluish white, finely dotted with reddish brown. Incubation is by both parents, about 13-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching. Probably 2 broods per year.


Young

Both parents feed the nestlings. Young leave the nest about 12-14 days after hatching. Probably 2 broods per year.

Diet

Mostly insects and berries. Diet is not known in detail, but probably similar to that of Brown Thrasher. Known to eat many insects, including beetles, ants, true bugs, moths, grasshoppers, antlions, and others; also spiders and centipedes, probably small vertebrates such as frogs and lizards. Also eats many berries and wild fruits, and probably some seeds.


Nesting

Pairs may remain together at all seasons, at least in some cases. Nest: Placed in dense and often spiny plants such as shrubby mesquite, acacia, prickly-pear, or yucca, usually 4-10' above the ground. Site is usually well shaded in undergrowth of woods and in an almost impenetrable position. Nest (probably built by both sexes) is a bulky and loosely-constructed open cup of sticks, twigs, leaves, weeds, grass, and other material, lined with softer matter such as rootlets and fine grass.

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

Migration

Mostly a permanent resident. Strays have wandered north into western Texas and even Colorado.

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Migration

Mostly a permanent resident. Strays have wandered north into western Texas and even Colorado.

Songs and Calls
Song a varied series of paired phrases similar to those of the Brown Thrasher; call a low chuck.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Long-billed 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 Long-billed 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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