Monday, December 22, 2014

California Thrashers at Lake Hodges

California Thrasher
California Thrasher singing at dawn. Discovery Lake, San Marcos, California. December 14, 2014. Greg Gillson.
California Thrashers are not abundant, but rather widespread, in brushy chaparral throughout most of California and NW Baja. As with most thrashers, they stay rather low to the ground and hidden for the most part, only choosing a perch higher in a bush to sing at dawn. My previous photos of this species have been partial views through the bushes.

California Thrasher

How exciting it was, then, to have a pair of these birds out in the open feeding on the ground only 15 feet away! This was at Lake Hodges in Rancho Bernardo, just south of Escondido.

California Thrasher

Rather more brownish than gray, the dark eye helps separate it from other similar long-billed, paler gray, desert thrashers of the American Southwest. The under tail coverts are described as the color "tawny," which is a pale brown or brownish-orange. Okay, butterscotch colored maybe.

California Thrasher
California Thrasher. Lake Hodges, California. December 14, 2014. Greg Gillson.
These are fairly big birds--12 inches long--an inch longer, bill tip to tail tip, than a Western Scrub-Jay. They have ample tails. And that bill! Quite the eating implement--curved tweezers that it swings from side to side turning over the leaf litter, or probes down into the soil, to find insects and seeds.

California Thrasher at Lake Hodges, photo by Greg Gillson