Wednesday, May 28, 2008
A New Bird and an Old Friend
I've been birdwatching from my yard for about six years. It's not surprising that in the last few years, I seldom spot a bird I have never seen. As you can imagine, it's quite a treat when I do see a new one. About two weeks ago, I spotted a bird I had never seen. Actually, Dave spotted it first. Luckily I had our camera handy. "Unluckily" the new bird landed near the garage that is undergoing some renovation. Not the prettiest background for a photo. I'm just thrilled to have seen it and gotten a picture.
According to my research, this new bird is a brown thrasher. It's related to the northern mockingbird and the gray catbird. It is much shyer than its more gregarious cousin the mockingbird. It forages for insects, especially beetles, and is often found overturning leaves in its search for dinner. It also eats fruits and nuts. The brown thrasher's habitat is mainly fields with scrub, thickets, and woodland borders. Its breeding range is from southeastern Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, and the northeast of the US south to the southern part of Florida. It spends the winter in the southern part of its breeding range.
Like the red-winged blackbird, it is very protective of its nest. It is so fierce that it sometimes draws blood from people or animals that get too close to the nest. Brown thrasher chicks fledge at a very young age - 11 to 12 days! Another unusual characteristic is its call, which sounds like a large smacking kiss.
I didn't hear its call or observe much of its behavior. It landed on the old fence by the garage and, much to my surprise, stayed there for a good five minutes. Then it flew across the yard and high up into the oak tree before setting off again out of the yard.
Sometimes when I spot a new bird, I look through my bird journal to see what birds I may have spotted in past years. Six years ago to the day, I saw my first red-winged blackbird! Although they are frequent visitors, I have yet to get a really good photo of one of these beautiful but noisy birds.