A big curved bill and a great voice
BY JON HAMMOND
Toshimi Kristof took this photo of a California Thrasher vocalizing as it was perched in a clump of Great Basin Sagebrush. Toshimi and her husband, Les, were taking a hike along a road when they saw and heard this distinctive bird. Although California Thrashers (Toxostoma redivivum) are not as well known as their relative, the Northern Mockingbird, these birds with their long downward-curved bills can make a wide range of sounds and are members of the same family: the Mimids, from the Latin word for “mimic,” so named because many of their members are excellent mimics and can imitate the calls of many different bird species, as well as other sounds from their environment. The California Thrasher is a bird that is native exclusively to California and a limited area of Baja California in Mexico. They can be common in some areas, but are often hard to spot because their grayish-brown coloration allows them to blend in with the chaparral habitat where California Thrashers are most likely to be found. California Thrashers use their strong curved bills to sweep leaf litter and duff aside as they search on the ground for insects. They eat a variety of arthropods, including beetles, assorted larva, pincher bugs, Jerusalem crickets, spiders, wasps, bees, etc. They will also eat berries and fruit when weather gets colder and insects become more scarce. Both male and female California Thrashers can be quite vocal, and males will often perch and unleash a series of twice-repeated notes and phrases, sometimes approximating the sounds of other birds that share their chaparral surroundings. NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.