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Sage Thrasher


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

This smallest of the thrashers is a widespread denizen of the West’s vast sagebrush steppe. Sage Thrashers are furtive creatures that hunt for insects beneath a protective sagebrush canopy. In spring the males sing seemingly endless cascades of song from tall perches. Although they are reminiscent of mockingbirds, Sage Thrashers are browner, more spotted, and lack bold white wing flashes. Their sagebrush habitat is vulnerable to degradation via grazing, development, and invasive plants.


Males have long, complex, melodic songs, with remarkable variety. The rambling series of phrases, often preceded by soft clucking notes, is continuous and interspersed with moments of repetition and mimicry. Songs can be very long indeed; one male was recorded singing for 22 minutes straight.


  • Song, call
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

When alarmed, call is a low, hoarse cluck, very similar to a Red-winged Blackbird, accompanied by a flick of the tail. Occasionally gives a descending, clear, two-noted whistle, and a variety of scolding calls.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Find This Bird

Look for Sage Thrashers in relatively undisturbed stretches of sagebrush. Your best bet is in spring, when the males are likely to spend much of the early morning out in the open, singing. Listen for a long, bubbling stream of notes and chatters, or a low call note that sounds like a Red-winged Blackbird.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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