Wednesday, August 26, 2015

California Thrasher at Scissors Crossing

Eastward over the Cuyamaca Mountains, right on the edge of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, I spied a large gray-brown bird in the mesquite. Slightly larger than a robin, plain breast, long curved bill, ample tail.

Nope. Not the rare Crissal Thrasher that one might expect in the desert mesquite trees just 20 miles farther east. Rather, it was the common thrasher of the coastal slope to the west--the California Thrasher.

California Thrasher in mesquite
California Thrasher in mesquite. Scissors Crossing, California. July 4, 2015. Greg Gillson.
It is especially common in dense chaparral, but also found in coastal sage scrub. These birds don't seem to care for human-altered habitats, and are quite scarce even in apparently appropriate habitat in urban areas.

They are harder to find in winter in their dense bushes and shrubs. But come spring they sing loudly from exposed perches. The songs are long and complex and slightly warbled, with both musical and harsh notes.