Birds Vol 1 #3 – The Brown Thrush (Thrasher)

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) – Birds Illustrated

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited

Vol 1. March, 1897 No. 3



“However the world goes ill,
The Thrushes still sing in it.”


HE Mocking-bird of the North, as the Brown Thrush (Brown Thrasher today) has been called, arrives in the Eastern and Middle States about the 10th of May, at which season he may be seen, perched on the highest twig of a hedge, or on the topmost branch of a tree, singing his loud and welcome song, that may be heard a distance of half a mile. The favorite haunt of the Brown Thrush, however, is amongst the bright and glossy foliage of the evergreens. “There they delight to hide, although not so shy and retiring as the Blackbird; there they build their nests in greatest numbers, amongst the perennial foliage, and there they draw at nightfall to repose in warmth and safety.” The Brown Thrasher sings chiefly just after sunrise and before sunset, but may be heard singing at intervals during the day. His food consists of wild fruits, such as blackberries and raspberries, snails, worms, slugs and grubs. He also obtains much of his food amongst the withered leaves and marshy places of the woods and shrubberies which he frequents. Few birds possess a more varied melody. His notes are almost endless in variety, each note seemingly uttered at the caprice of the bird, without any perceptible approach to order.

The site of the Thrush’s nest is a varied one, in the hedgerows, under a fallen tree or fence-rail; far up in the branches of stately trees, or amongst the ivy growing up their trunks. The nest is composed of the small dead twigs of trees, lined with the fine fibers of roots. From three to five eggs are deposited, and are hatched in about twelve days. They have a greenish background, thickly spotted with light brown, giving the whole egg a brownish appearance.

The Brown Thrush leaves the Eastern and Middle States, on his migration South, late in September, remaining until the following May.


“Within a thick and spreading hawthorn bush
That overhung a molehill, large and round,
I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns of rapture while I drank the sound
With joy—and oft an unintruding guest,
I watched her secret toils from day to day;
How true she warped the moss to form her nest,
And modeled it within with wood and clay.
And by and by, with heath-bells gilt with dew,
There lay her shining eggs as bright as flowers,
Ink-spotted over, shells of green and blue:
And there I witnessed, in the summer hours,
A brood of nature’s minstrels chirp and fly,
Glad as the sunshine and the laughing sky.”


Dear Readers:

My cousin Robin Redbreast told me that he wrote you a letter last month and sent it with his picture. How did you like it? He is a pretty bird—Cousin Robin—and everybody likes him. But I must tell you something of myself.

Folks call me by different names—some of them nicknames, too.

The cutest one of all is Brown Thrasher. I wonder if you know why they call me Thrasher. If you don’t, ask some one. It is really funny.

Some people think Cousin Robin is the sweetest singer of our family, but a great many like my song just as well.

Early in the morning I sing among the bushes, but later in the day you will always find me in the very top of a tree and it is then I sing my best.

Do you know what I say in my song? Well, if I am near a farmer while he is planting, I say: “Drop it, drop it—cover it up, cover it up—pull it up, pull it up, pull it up.”

One thing I very seldom do and that is, sing when near my nest. Maybe you can tell why. I’m not very far from my nest now. I just came down to the stream to get a drink and am watching that boy on the other side of the stream. Do you see him?

One dear lady who loves birds has said some very nice things about me in a book called “Bird Ways.” Another lady has written a beautiful poem about my singing. Ask your mamma or teacher the names of these ladies. Here is the poem:

There’s a merry brown thrush sitting up in a tree.
He is singing to me! He is singing to me!
And what does he say—little girl, little boy?
“Oh, the world’s running over with joy!
Hush! Look! In my tree,
I am as happy as happy can be.”

And the brown thrush keeps singing, “A nest, do you see,
And five eggs, hid by me in the big cherry tree?
Don’t meddle, don’t touch—little girl, little boy—
Or the world will lose some of its joy!
Now I am glad! now I am free!
And I always shall be,
If you never bring sorrow to me.”

So the merry brown thrush sings away in the tree
To you and to me—to you and to me;
And he sings all the day—little girl, little boy—
“Oh, the world’s running over with joy!
But long it won’t be,
Don’t you know? don’t you see?
Unless we’re good as good can be.”

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) By Dan'sPix

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) By Dan’sPix

Lee’s Addition:

The Brown Thrush mentioned in this article is now known as the Brown Thrasher. They are members of the Mimidae – Mockingbirds, Thrashers Family. The family not only has the Thrashers (14) and Mockingbirds (16), but also Catbirds (2) and Tremblers (2).

The Brown Thrasher is bright reddish-brown above with thin, dark streaks on its buffy underparts. Its long, rufous tail is rounded with paler corners, and eyes are a brilliant gold. Adults average about 11.5 in (29 cm) long with a wingspan of 13 in (33 cm), and weigh 2.4 oz (68 g).

It is found in thickets and dense brush, often searching for food in dry leaves on the ground. It also enjoys the convergence of mowed to unmowed lawns, particularly if there are ample shrubs or shrubby trees, i.e., fruit orchards that the undergrowth is left undisturbed. It also enjoys perennial gardens and can be seen jumping from the ground to catch insects on flowers and foliage. Its breeding range includes the United States and Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. It is a partial migrant, with northern birds wintering in the southern USA, where it occurs throughout the year.

The female lays 3 to 5 eggs in a twiggy nest lined with grass. The nest is built in a dense shrub or low in a tree. Both parents incubate and feed the young. These birds raise two or three broods in a year. They are able to call in up to 3000 distinct songs. The male sings a series of short repeated melodious phrases from an open perch to defend his territory and is also very aggressive in defending the nest.

Brown Thrasher by Chris Parrish

The Brown Thrasher is the official state bird of Georgia, and was the inspiration for the name of Atlanta’s former National Hockey League team, the Atlanta Thrashers.(Wikipedia)

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) ©WikiC

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) ©WikiC

The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land; (Song of Solomon 2:12 KJV)

Birds Illustrated by Color Photograhy Vol 1 March 1897 No 3 - Cover

Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited – Introduction

The above article is the first article in the monthly serial for February 1897 “designed to promote Knowledge of Bird-Live.” These include Color Photography, as they call them, today they are drawings. There are at least three Volumes that have been digitized by Project Gutenberg.

To see the whole series of – Birds Illustrated by Color Photography – Revisited



(Information from Wikipedia and other internet sources)

Next Article – The Japan Pheasant

Previous Article – The Swallow

ABC’s of the Gospel


Brown Thrasher – Wikipedia

Wood Thrush – WhatBird



10 thoughts on “Birds Vol 1 #3 – The Brown Thrush (Thrasher)

  1. Thanks so much for the information. So much to learn. I frightened a bird on our suet and he flew to the ground. It fits everything except the bill seemed longer and was yellow. I am still puzzled

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Bird Watching » Blog Archive » Vol. 2, No. 3 – The Hermit Thrush « Lee's Birdwatching Adventures …

  3. Their common name describes the behaviour of these birds when searching for food on the ground: they use their long bills to “thrash” through dirt or dead leaves. All of these birds eat insects and several species also eat berries.
    From Wikipedia.
    Does that help?

    Liked by 1 person

    • For the past 3 days my wife and I have repeatedly heard, and often seen, a Brown Thrasher pecking on our windows, both at a window in the front of our house and also at another in the back. (At first we thought it was a human knocking on the front door.) Not wanting to have broken windows, we make noise to shoo the beautiful bird away. (But it returns later.) In dull lighting it appears brown-backed; in bright sunlight its back plumage is bright copper-orange. Hopefully it will find a good place to nest that doesn’t involve pecking cracks in our windows!!


  4. “The cutest one of all is Brown Thrasher. I wonder if you know why they call me Thrasher. If you don’t, ask some one. It is really funny.”

    Alright, so I am asking you.

    I am looking forward to their return this spring. I so enjoy their song. We get them foraging under our feeders sometimes. I think it was the berries in the mix.


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