Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Curve-billed Thrasher

Three weeks old and just starting to learn about life, this plump and fuzzy Curve-billed Thrasher rests ever so lightly on a cholla cactus.

chol-la: (Spanish) ‘skull, head’, pronounced: choy-ya)

Having fledged recently from his prickly birthplace, he’s probably learned one thorny life lesson already…thorns.

An ability to navigate a prickly environment should serve him well though. He'll probably spend his entire life in the Sonoran Desert where most things poke, scratch or bite.

Raptors and snakes are ever present threats to him, so for now, he’s sticking close to a parent.

Curve-billed Thrashers are common desert birds...well-suited in their dusty dun feathers. He's part of the desert's color palette.  Only bright yellow eyes give him away.

At ten to twelve inches in length, he is a large songbird. With a long down-curved bill, projecting a fierceness he may not deserve, he thrashes the ground for insects, invertebrates, seeds and berries.  

Males and females look alike and share incubating duties together.

This Curve-billed Thrasher was incubating eggs when I stumbled upon her well-hidden nest (lower left). She flew to a nearby cactus and tried to hide.  Normally a very vocal bird…she was silent.  I knew she was hiding something of value when she stayed nearby, but kept quiet.  

The sun shone on three pale blue eggs deep inside a cholla cactus' vicious needles.

Not wanting to stress her, I left quickly after making a picture.

The Curve-billed Thrasher returned immediately, diving through the prickly patch of thorns without hesitation to check on her eggs.

(Click any picture to enlarge.)

I'll guess here, but there is a perfect home for everyone somewhere.  The Curve-billed Thrasher has chosen one, also...the most inhospitable of homes, the cholla cactus, as its perfect home.


Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley Guide to Bird