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Breeding Birds: California Thrasher

December 01, 1989|Clipboard researched by Kathie Bozanich Susan Davis Greene and Janice L. Jones / Los Angeles Times; Graphics by Doris Shields / Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA THRASHER

(Toxostoma redivivum)

Description: Dark above, with pale eyebrow, dark eye, dark cheeks. Pale throat contrasts with dark breast; belly and undertail hides tawny-buff.

Habitat: Common in

chaparral-covered foothills, moist woodland with dense ground cover, brush along streams and suburbs with abundant plantings.

Diet: Mostly insects, spiders, some fruits, acorns and forb seeds.

Display: The male sings from elevated perch. Female performs begging display; male presents food to or feeds female; copulation takes place on or near the ground.

Nest: Mostly hidden in shrub or low tree; bulky, made of stiff twigs, lined with grass and rootlets.

Eggs: Pale blue, spotted with pale brown; one inch long.

Natural history notes: The thrasher's most common call is a low, flat chuck. The song is loud and sustained, with some clear but mostly guttural phrases, often repeated once or twice. Imitates sounds of other species in its vocal repertoire. Male takes charge of fledglings while female renests. Young cannot fly until several days after leaving nest. Although they are highly terrestrial, male will ascend small bush to sing. Can run very rapidly.

Breeding bird atlas: To report bird breeding activity in your neighborhood, or to get information on the breeding bird atlas (now in its fifth and final year), call Sea and Sage Audubon Society member Nancy Kenyon, (714) 786-3160.

Note: Map is divided into 5-kilometer squares so that Audubon Society volunteers can more easily survey areas on a regular basis.

Sources: Sea and Sage Audubon Society; "The Birder's Handbook," Ehrlich, Dobkin and Wheye, Fireside Books (1988); "Field Guide to the Birds of North America," National Geographic Society (1987); "Birds of Southern California: Status and Distribution," Garrett and Dunn, Los Angeles Audubon Society (1981).

Indicates 5-kilometer-square areas where breeding activity has been confirmed.

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