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Sage thrasher
Oreoscoptes montanus Sandy Hook NJ.jpg
In New Jersey, USA
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Genus:
Oreoscoptes
Species:
montanus
Oreoscoptes montanus map.svg
     Breeding range     Migration     Nonbreeding

The sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) is a medium-sized passerine bird from the family Mimidae, which also includes mockingbirds, tremblers, and New World catbirds. It is the only member of the genus Oreoscoptes. This seems less close to the Caribbean thrashers, but rather to the mockingbirds instead (Hunt et al. 2001, Barber et al. 2004).

Description

SageThrasher-12FEB2017
Sage Thrasher wintering in Woodland, California. February 2017.

Oreoscoptes montanus are pale grey-brown on the upperparts and white with dark streaks on the underparts. They have a slim straight relatively short bill, yellow eyes and a long tail, although not as long as that of other thrashers.

Measurements:

  • Length: 7.9-9.1 in (20-23 cm)
  • Weight: 1.4-1.8 oz (40-50 g)
  • Wingspan: 12.6 in (32 cm)

Breeding

As its name suggests, this bird breeds in western North America, from southern Canada to northern Arizona and New Mexico. Its breeding habitat is in areas with dense stands of sagebrush and rarely in other shrubby areas. The female lays 4 or 5 eggs in a twiggy cup nest built in a low bush. Both parents incubate and feed the young birds.

Migrating

In winter, these birds migrate to the southernmost United States and Mexico, including the Baja Peninsula, north and south.

Diet

They mainly eat insects in summer; they also eat berries, especially in winter. They usually search for insects on the ground in brushy locations.

Vocalization

The male bird sings a series of warbled notes to defend his nesting territory.

Conservation

These birds have declined in some areas where sagebrush has been removed but are still common where suitable habitat remains. The continued decline of sagebrush habitats in western North America is cause for alarm for this and other sagebrush dependent species.

  • Barber, Brian R.; Martínez-Gómez, Juan E. & Peterson, A. Townsend (2004): Systematic position of the Socorro mockingbird Mimodes graysoni. J. Avian Biol. 35: 195–198. (HTML abstract)
  • Hunt, Jeffrey S.; Bermingham, Eldredge; & Ricklefs, Robert E. (2001): Molecular systematics and biogeography of Antillean thrashers, tremblers, and mockingbirds (Aves: Mimidae). Auk 118(1): 35–55. DOI:10.1642/0004-8038(2001)118[0035:MSABOA]2.0.CO;2 HTML fulltext without images
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