Georgia is a southeastern U.S. state whose terrain consists of valleys, ridges, piedmont, and coastal plains. It’s a larger state with a population of 10.8 million and a 59,425 sq mile size.
Georgia state bird is the Brown Thrasher. These birds can be found throughout the eastern portions of the United States.
Brown Thrashers are moderately sized songbirds. Their slender bodies and elongated features characterize them. Brown Thrashers have long, rounded tails, relatively short wings, and prominent bills that are slightly curved downward.
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The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) officially became the state bird of Georgia in 1970. However, in 1928, a group of schoolchildren initiated the effort to declare the Brown Thrasher as the state bird of Georgia.
Through a vote, the children unanimously chose the Brown Thrasher as their preferred bird. The Red-headed Woodpecker was also considered. However, objections from local tree owners led to the idea being abandoned.
The State Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Atlanta Bird Club supported the children’s choice for the Brown Thrasher to be Georgia’s state bird. Later, a bill was introduced to designate the Brown Thrasher as Georgia’s state bird officially. However, the bill failed to gain the proper amount of attention at the time.
It wasn’t until 1935 that Governor Eugene Talmadge proclaimed the Brown Thrasher as the state bird. Unfortunately, the bill took another 35 years to gain significant traction. With the assistance of the Garden Clubs of Georgia, the bill was presented to the Georgia General Assembly on March 20, 1970, and was finally passed.
Where Can You Find Them?
The Brown Thrasher can be found across the eastern portions of North America. Its distribution consists of the region east of the Rocky Mountains, extending from southern Canada all the way down to south Florida, the Gulf Coast, and east-central Texas.
Some Brown Thrashers migrate while others remain year-round residents. Those who don’t migrate live in the southern portions of their range.
Brown Thrashers prefer to inhabit dense shrubs, thickets, and woodland edges. However, they have been found in agricultural areas but typically avoid nesting near human activity, and even visit the backyard.
Interesting Facts About Brown Thrashers
- Brown Thrasher is 20th in the list of Most Popular Birds of Georgia
- Brown Thrashers are considered pests to some because they consume a large amount of produce in crop fields and orchards.
- Brown Thrashers are a part of the thrush family and are mimics. Like Northern Mockingbirds, they’re among the most vocal birds worldwide.
- Brown Thrashers are omnivores; they primarily consume insects and fruits.
- The Brown Thrasher got its name from two distinct characteristics. First, it is named after its brown-colored plumage. Second, the bird got its name due to its behavior of vigorously thrashing through leaves and debris on the ground to look for food.
- Brown Thrashers will visit bird feeders that offer seeds, corn, fruit, and suet. However, if you really want to get their attention and make them feel comfortable, you should add a birdbath as well.
The Brown Thrasher is a large, slender bird with an overall brown plumage. They have distinct white and black wing bars, whitish underparts with black streaking, prominent yellow eyes, and reddish-brown upperparts. Their bills are notably down-curved, and their legs are long and sturdy. Their long tail is brown and often cocked upwards.
There are minimal visual differences between males, females, and juveniles. However, juvenile Brown Thrashers can be easily identified due to their olive eyes. These birds are comparable in size to robins. Brown Thrashers are 9.1 to 11.8 inches, have a weight of 2.1 to 3.1 ounces, and have a wingspan of 11.4 to 12.6 inches.
What Do Brown Thrashers Eat?
The Brown Thrasher is an omnivore; they consume both animals and plants. Regarding the animal portion of their diet, the primary foods they consume include beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, and earthworms. They also sometimes consume snails, bees, and occasionally small reptiles, lizards, or frogs.
When it comes to the plant portion of their diet, these birds consume various fruits, berries, seeds, and nuts. Some examples include blueberries, raspberries, cherries, and acorns.
During the breeding season, their diet mainly comprises of animal matter and is supplemented with fruits, nuts, and seeds.
In the late summer and early fall, their diet shifts towards a more plant-based diet, emphasizing fruits, nuts, seeds, and grains. When these birds are in their wintering grounds, their diet primarily consists of plant matter like fruits and acorns.
Brown Thrashers have a vocal repertoire that consists of distinct calls, like a harsh, dry tschek and a melodic, whistling pitcheree. Their unique song is diverse and harmonious and often features individual phrases that are repeated 2 or 3 times. Additionally, Brown Thrashers produce calls such as a sharp spuck and a low churr.
These birds possess one of the most extensive song repertoires among all North American birds. It has the ability to mimic the calls of other birds and can produce over 1,100 different vocalizations.
The Brown Thrasher is a naturally solitary bird. They often seek cover and display what’s considered “secretive” behavior.
These birds are commonly observed in thickets and shrubs where they lurk and engage in ground foraging. Watching them hop across the ground, uncovering food by shifting leaves and other debris, can be entertaining to watch.
Brown Thrashers can also often be observed bathing; they indulge in water puddles and sand on the road. They use water to clean their feathers and sand to dry them and remove any insects clinging to their bodies.
When it comes to their nests and territories, Brown Thrashers exhibit an aggressive nature. The males declare their territory by singing songs repeatedly from open perches. If there are any neighboring nests close by, males and their mates are often seen engaging in fights.
The courtship displays Brown Thrashers produce can be captivating. Males will elegantly swagger before females and trail their tails along the ground. In the presence of a female, the male sings and sometimes vibrates its body to capture her attention.
Georgia State Bird – Frequently Asked Questions
What is the state bird of Georgia?
The state bird of Georgia is the Brown Thrasher.
Why is Brown Thrasher the state bird of Georgia?
The reason why the Brown Thrasher was chosen to be the state bird of Georgia is not known. However, it’s theorized that the bird’s distinct song played a significant role in the choice.
When did Georgia choose its state bird?
Georgia officially chose the Brown Thrasher as its state bird in 1970. However, the idea was first discussed in 1928, but there wasn’t enough support for the idea. Governor Eugene Talmadge mentioned it a second time in 1935, but again, there wasn’t enough support. In 1970, the bill gained enough traction and was passed.