Autumn is here and most bird enthusiasts are saying goodbye to their summer visitors and are hopeful for a sighting of a seasonal regular or even a rare migratory species. Here in the town of Gingles south of Ashland, I have a few summer stragglers around and the usual throngs of dark-eyed juncos and palm warblers haven’t arrived yet. Our group of veerys can still be heard calling softly in the evenings, and our catbirds are occasionally meowing — although we usually hear them making their electrical-zapping chattering call from back in the brush. This fall I’ve noticed quite a few of their brown thrasher cousins out and about, feeding in the open and munching on the deer block. I don’t recall seeing them in the fall as often as I have this year, and I’m hopeful that this means these interesting and striking birds have had a good year with successful broods.
The rural areas south and east of Ashland are great brown thrasher habitat. Like other mimids, including catbirds, they prefer dense shrubby habitats and scrubland. Around here we have a lot of willow and alder thicket that suits them, but you’ll also find them anywhere with hedgerows or windbreak belts.