Friday, April 9, 2010

Taxon of the Day! (9 April 2010)

Toxostoma redivivum - California Thrasher

A relative of the familiar mockingbird, this species is an equally impressive singer. The latin name means "poisonous opening that has come back to life". I have no idea what the first part refers to (actually, I have an idea, but it is both crude and unlikely). The second part refers to Gambel's rediscovery of the bird, more than half a century after it was originally encountered by a Frenchman by the name of La Perouse.

Thrashers are in the Family Mimidae, along with mockingbirds, catbirds, thrashers, and tremblers. The mimids are strictly a new world family, and are well known for their vocal abilities. To hear a recording of the California Thrasher, click here

It turns out that the California Thrasher is the largest of the mimids. Despite their size, they are commonly claimed to be sulky and difficult to see. Perhaps this is because their preferred habitat (chapparal) tends to be rather low and dense. However, in my limited experience, I have found them to be fairly easy to see, and sometimes downright cooperative. The above photo was taken in January, just south of the Griffith Observatory, near Hollywood, Los Angeles, California.

No Taxon of the Day for weekends, I decided. But! You will get a chewy morsel of biodiversity/ecology investigation that I have been working on.
Have a nice Friday, my friends.

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