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Number of species: 80

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Brown Thrasher - Toxostoma rufum

Brown Thrashers show only subtle differences by age, and many intermediates are best classified as AHY in spring. Sex is reliably determined only via brood patch / cloacal protuberance during the breeding season.

Quick Tips:

  • Check for a molt limit among the greater coverts - HY/SY birds often show a contrast between paler outer juvenile coverts and darker replaced inner coverts; on AHY/ASY birds there is no molt limit, but beware a pseudolimit that can be very similar in pattern, except more gradual across feathers
  • In fall, check the iris - on HY birds it is grayish to pale yellow, while on AHY birds it is yellowish-orange to orange
  • Examine the tail - on HY/SY birds the outer feathers are somewhat more tapered and worn, especially by spring; on AHY/ASY birds they are relatively broad, rounded, and tend to show less wear

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Juvenile / Unknown
Gray iris; faint spotting on upperparts, loosely textured undertail coverts
Thumbnail - MG2-0972-31256-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3110.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-0972-31256-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3108.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-0972-31256-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3109.jpg
Date: Jul 23
Hatch year / Unknown
Iris brown to grayish-yellow; molt limit among greater coverts, with outer feathers paler brown; tertials with buffy tips; rectrices narrow and tapered
Thumbnail - MG2-1603-43899-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3092.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1603-43899-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3090.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1603-43899-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3091.jpg
Date: Sep 9
After hatch year / Unknown
Iris yellow to orange; wing uniform and with relatively little wear; tertials with white tips; rectrices broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-1232-26380-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3086.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1232-26380-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3084.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1232-26380-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3085.jpg
Date: Sep 6
Second year / Unknown
Molt limit among greater coverts, with outer feathers paler brown; tertials and primary coverts dull and somewhat worn; rectrices narrow and tapered
Thumbnail - MG2-1603-43807-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3104.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1603-43807-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3102.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1603-43807-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3103.jpg
Date: Apr 30
After second year / Unknown
Wing uniform and with relatively little wear; rectrices broad and rounded
Thumbnail - MG2-1212-69201-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3101.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1212-69201-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3099.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1212-69201-Toxostoma_rufum_AOU_7_52-3100.jpg
Date: May 28
Number of species: 80

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