When we first came to West Texas it snowed right before New Year’s. It was a big snowstorm and I felt sorry for the local birds since finding food underneath the snow was difficult at best. So, I put out a feeder loaded with seeds and during the few days that it was up, I got to meet several new species of birds I had never seen before. This fella is a Curve-billed Thrasher, Toxostomata curvirostre.
I had previously encountered brown thrashers in Fort Worth, and they were notoriously difficult to approach closely enough for a good picture. I was stunned by this bird’s willingness to let me crunch on icy ground within 20 feet of the Hackberry tree in the front yard. Of course, it was pretty cold and the bird feeder nearby was on his mind.
Here he is on the feeder, and you can see that it was designed for much smaller birds. He also seemed to prefer corn because he passed all the smaller seeds over for the kernels of corn he could reach.
The bird feeder was suspended on a single strand of monofilament fishing line and tended to pivot. This little fella persisted in hanging on and contorting himself while he fished for corn kernels. He had to flap a bit to keep from falling off. His size tended to keep the smaller birds off the feeder while he was there, but the two thrashers that visited that day ate their fill and moved off so the others could land on the filling station and tank up.
The next year, we had thrashers visit during November to feast on the pecan crop.
When he got tired of shaking pecans, this guy perched on top of the telephone pole at the corner of the yard. I took this picture because he seemed intently interested in something below. No idea what, though.
These guys have brownish gray feathers on the back and brown speckles on a sandy white breast. They are the only bird I have seen in Texas with those orange eyes. The eyes and the recurved bill are the standout features of these birds.
They range all over the dry parts of the Southwestern United States and on into Mexico. My part of Texas is on the eastern edge of their range. They are part of the Mimidae family which includes the Mockingbirds and all the other species of thrashers. When I first saw these, I was reminded of Mockingbirds. They are lively creatures with intense orange eyes, remarkable. It was fun to get the chance to watch them do their thing.