Georgia State Bird: Description, Pictures, & Fun Facts

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher

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What is Georgia State Bird?

The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) may seem to be an unusual choice as Georgia’s state bird, given there are many more colourful songbirds found in the state. However, if you learn more about this unusual species and how it was selected as Georgia’s state bird, you will have a better understanding of the reasons behind this apparently odd decision.

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher

Why is Brown Thrasher Georgia State Bird?

Little is known about why the Brown Thrasher was selected as Georgia’s state bird, although it is assumed that it was picked because of its distinctive song. The Brown Thrasher has a diverse repertoire of cries that resemble other birds and even sound like a human kissing sound.

The Cornell Lab reports that the Brown Thrasher has a repertoire of around 1,100 sounds. The Brown Thrasher sings in phrases that are repeated twice before moving on to another sound or phrase.

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher

When did Brown Thrasher become Georgia State Bird?

The Brown Thrasher was named Georgia’s state bird for the first time in 1928 by a group of schoolchildren who voted for the bird as their top pick. According to some reports, the red-headed woodpecker was also considered but was dropped due to objections from local tree owners.

It is unknown if the youngsters chose the Brown Thrasher on their own or were given various alternatives to pick from. In any case, the State Federation of Women’s Clubs and the Atlanta Bird Club backed them up.

The bill to make the Brown Thrasher Georgia’s state bird was quickly presented, but it was not acted on at the time. Governor Eugene Talmadge issued a proclamation declaring the Brown Thrasher the state bird of Georgia in 1935.

The Brown Thrasher did not become Georgia’s official state bird until some 35 years later, on March 20, 1970, when the resolution was submitted to and approved by the Georgia General Assembly with the backing of the Garden Clubs of Georgia.

The delay in inducting the Brown Thrasher as the official state bird was caused in part by others suggesting that the quail should be the state bird, but this was met with criticism since many people did not feel great about killing and eating the state bird.

As a consequence, the quail was declared as the state’s official game bird in a resolution passed on March 20, 1970.

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher
How did the Brown Thrasher get its name?

Once again, there seems to be some doubt over the origin of the name of this vivacious little bird. Some say he got his name from the way he twitches his tail, which is similar to the motion of a thresher, which is used to extract the seeds from harvested grain stalks.

Others believe the name comes from this bird’s flailing and thrashing when looking for food beneath leaves and bushes, as he flails and thrashes, upturning leaves and dirt in pursuit of a nice meal.

In any case, it seems that the Brown Thrasher got his name from his proclivity to thrash about and stir up the surrounding environment.

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher
What does Georgia State Bird look like?

Seeing a Brown Thrasher may be challenging since this bird is known to be timid and prefers regions beneath trees and bushes where he is likely well concealed. But don’t be fooled by his elusiveness into believing you should be looking for a little songbird.

The Brown Thrasher is 9 to 12 inches in length, with rusty brown feathers on his back, and a prominent pale belly with stunning black striping.

The Brown Thrasher has piercing yellow eyes, two black and white wing bars, and a long, slightly curved beak. He usually holds his long tail feathers up. The male and female Brown Thrasher are visually similar.

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher
How do you attract Brown Thrashers to your yard?

Brown Thrashers don’t often visit bird feeders, but they may dine under them if you provide mealworms to your backyard birds. Dried berries and fruit may also entice them. The best approach to attract the brown thrasher to your yard, though, is to give him with the natural environment he needs.

Use these strategies to attract brown thrashers to your yard. Plant berries and nuts-producing plants and bushes. Those with thorns and thick foliage are favoured because they give a safe haven from predators.

Brown Thrashers use brush piles to shield themselves from predators and to shelter from severe weather. Allow old leaves to fall beneath bushes and trees, which are a favoured feeding spot for thrashers.

Install a birdbath near the ground with water that is no deeper than 1.5 inches at its deepest point. It is preferable to have a sloping bath. Brown Thrashers may frequent pedestal birdbaths, but they prefer those that are near to the ground or at ground level.

Georgia State Bird - Brown Thrasher
Interesting facts about Brown Thrashers!

Although the Brown Thrasher is a wary bird that prefers to stay in deep vegetation, this changes when he has a nest to guard. He gets ferocious and will chase away anybody or anything that threatens the nest.

Brown Thrashers are poor fliers and spend the most of their time in shrubs and small trees, hunting for food beneath leaves and undergrowth.

Brown Thrasher may sing from atop towering trees!

The Brown Thrashers play with the same teammate the whole season. It is unknown whether they stay monogamous for life, since they like to mate in deep forest away from human sight, making it impossible for scientists to investigate their mating patterns. The Brown Thrasher lays 3 to 6 eggs each clutch and may have two clutches in a season.

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