Brown Thrashers

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Filed under Outdoor Notes

May 14, 2010

In her delightful first book, Letters from Eden, the painter and naturalist Julie Zickefoose describes the first serious bird painting she ever did, a present for a beloved grandmother. It was a Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum), a bird she describes as having a “rusty back, pure burnt sienna; a gray cheek; a long, strong bill; an eye the color of egg yolk.”

Brown Thrasher

Brown Thrasher

Ms. Zickefoose has a good eye.

Thrashers are members of the Mimidae—the mimics—which includes Mockingbirds, Catbirds, and Thrashers. Although there are several species of thrashers in the West, the Brown Thrasher is the only one native to Pennsylvania. Look for these handsome birds singing from some treetop at the edge of a brushy field. They are fairly good mimics, although not in a league with Mockingbirds, and can imitate a remarkable array of sounds.

If you want to learn more about the art and writing of Julie Zickefoose, please visit her website.

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