I was on my way to a friend's house for my favorite: tofu and pesto, blue cheese and lettuce sandwiches—ooh là là—when a brown thrasher ran across the road in front of my car.
It didn't hop, or use its wings, it sprinted like a roadrunner. Quick and true. Straight and purposeful. I stopped to watch and realized how beautiful the brown and spotted birds are, long and lean to the point of being almost elongated like the paintings of the Mannerists—Raphael, Michelangelo—of the High Renaissance.
Thrashers generally stay hidden in the understory. Reclusive, though not taciturn. With the largest song repertoires of any North American bird, up to 2,000 phrases or "strophes," they do not get the credit they deserve; all the attention goes to their cousins the loud, boastful mockingbirds, the true mimic thrush braggadocios. (But don't tell them I said such.)
- Recent thrasher photo by Wayne Mallinger.