LeConte's ThrasherToxostoma lecontei
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Mimidae
A ghost of a bird in some of the most arid habitats in North America, the sand-colored LeConte’s Thrasher blends in well with the pale deserts where it lives. When alarmed, this species flees on foot, like a miniature roadrunner, scampering rapidly among plants with tail cocked high. Only during the breeding season, when males perch high and sing in the morning, is this species conspicuous. Sadly it is now a very uncommon bird, with much of its habitat now lost to development and agriculture.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Even in optimal desert habitat, LeConte’s Thrashers are inconspicuous and virtually terrestrial for most of the year, staying on or near the ground in brushy cover. During the breeding season (December–March), males perch prominently and sing, most consistently on calm and cool early mornings. This is the best time to search for this phantom, although at other times of year, walking stealthily through open desert habitat with eyes wide open might produce a sighting (if only of a bird running away).
- Cuitlacoche Pálido (Spanish)
- Moqueur de LeConte (French)
- Cool Facts
- The name of LeConte's Thrasher commemorates John Eatton LeConte, Jr., an American naturalist, who first described this species from Yuma County, Arizona in 1850 or 1851. It was initially given the common name Le Conte’s Mocking Bird.
- Air temperatures in Death Valley, California, where LeConte’s Thrashers live, are among the highest on Earth, up to 134°F. Surface temperatures on the desert floor can build to as high as 194°F. In some summers, the air temperature remains above 95°F for several weeks in a row.
- As if the heat wasn't hard enough to deal with, surface water in the desert habitat of LeConte's Thrasher may appear for only a few days each year. Even then the bird rarely drinks it, instead getting water from the insects it eats.
- LeConte’s Thrasher is the palest of a group of thrashers found in the southwestern U.S. and adjacent Mexico. This group includes the Crissal Thrasher, California Thrasher, Bendire’s Thrasher, Curve-billed Thrasher, and Gray Thrasher of Baja California. All these thrashers forage similarly and have somewhat similar songs, but live in different habitats: Crissal in dense mesquite; California in unbroken chaparral; Bendire’s in deserts with taller vegetation than LeConte’s prefers; Curve-billed in canyons and brushlands; and Gray in chaparral.
- The longer-billed thrasher species have larger, stronger head muscles and fused thoracic vertebrae compared to shorter-billed species. These adaptations allow longer-billed species (such as LeConte’s) to dig more deeply in soil than shorter-billed species.
- The oldest recorded LeConte's Thrasher was a male, and at least 5 years, 8 months old when he was found in California, the same state where he had been banded.