Thrushes and thrashers are brown and white songbirds with spots or streaks on the chest. They look very similar to each other.
The Swainson’s Thrush is an olive/brown songbird with a round head and a short, straight bill. This thrush has spots on its chest and large buffy rings on its eyes. It forages for insects and other arthropods on the ground or on low branches.
The Hermit Thrush is brown/gray on the head and back. It has a reddish tail, thin eye rings, bold spots on the throat, and smudged spots on the breast.
The Swainson’s and Hermit Thrushes belong to the family Turdidae, which also includes Robins, Bluebirds, Veery, Townsend’s Solitaire, and other thrushes.
Brown Thrashers can sing more than 1,100 different songs and can imitate the melodies sung by other birds. This is one of the largest repertoires of any North American songbird. It has a long tail, yellow eyes, a slightly decurved bill, bold streaks on the chest, and two black and white bars on the wings.
Sage Thrashers have brown/gray colors on the top and black/white spots underneath. The black spots on the breast become fine streaks along the cinnamon-tinged flanks. It also has yellow eyes, two narrow white wing bars, a straight bill, and a short tail. The Sage Thrasher is relatively short compared to other species of thrashers.
The Brown and Sage Thrashers belong to the family Mimidae, which also includes the Northern Mockingbird, Gray Catbird, and other thrashers.
Photos and story generously donated by George Ho