Saturday, September 24, 2011

Sage Thrasher

This was an unexpected find at the Desert Botanical Gardens in this limbo month of September. Their northern, summer range extends from the Pacific Northwest to the very top of Arizona, while their winter range comes up from Mexico through Southern Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. There's an odd gap between the two, like the Sage Thrasher will actually go anywhere west of the semi-aridity line except for central Arizona, which is exactly where Pops and I saw it.
With their dull, brownish-gray backs and white wing bars, they're often mistaken for Juvenile Mockingbirds. The strong streaking/speckling on the breast, along with the stubbier bill and shorter size (8 1/2 inches to the mockingbird's 10) does set the Sage aside both from the Mockingbird and other Thrashers.
The Sage Thrasher is uncommon, and given its rather drab appearance I'm glad we saw one when we did, because I don't know if I'll otherwise notice and take the time to tell it apart as a new bird. This Thrasher was a new one for the List.
Note the grayish back and wing-bars, very similar to a young Northern Mockingbird
The streaked flanks and breast, along with the yellow eye and white rump are visible as this Sage Thrasher makes his escape past the creosote bushes.

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