Living Bird Magazine
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Strong legs and a long, decurved bill give Curve-billed Thrashers the perfect tools for hunting insects in the punishing deserts, canyons, and brushlands that are its home. That long bill also keeps long-legged insect prey at a safe distance and comes in handy for foraging and nesting among spiny plants, especially cacti. This species is so typical of the deserts of the American Southwest and northern Mexico that its whistled whit-wheet call is often the first vocalization that visiting bird watchers learn.More ID Info
Your best bet for finding a Curve-billed Thrasher is to listen for a whistle “like someone hailing a taxi.” On early desert mornings, look for the calling bird perched at the top of a small bush or cactus, surveying its environment. But be careful to see the bird before you check it off—sometimes a Northern Mockingbird or European Starling will perform a perfect imitation. During the heat of the day, Curve-billed Thrashers are harder to find as they rest in the shade of cactus, cholla, and other desert plants.
This species often comes to seeds, berries, insects, and water if offered, particularly on platform feeders or on the ground. Curve-billed Thrashers can sometimes dominate smaller birds at feeding stations. Large yards might even host a nesting pair in native vegetation. Find out more about their food and feeding station preferences at the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.