Sage Thrashers and Sagebrush

A fluffed up Sage ThrasherA fluffed up Sage Thrasher – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/400, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

Sage Thrashers are considered sagebrush obligates meaning that they require sagebrush for some part of their life cycle and for the Sage Thrashers in Utah that means they need it during the breeding cycle. Antelope Island State Park has many large expanses of sagebrush steppe areas where the thrashers can breed. Sage Thrashers and Sagebrush just go hand in hand in my mind here in Utah.

A very alert Sage ThrasherA very alert Sage Thrasher – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not baited or called in

In some areas where Sage Thrashers have bred in the past their habitat has been destroyed by ranchers tearing out the sagebrush and converting those areas to open range land. Just recently I saw a large swath of land cleared for either cattle or horses in the foothills of the Stansbury Mountains where I have seen Sage Thrashers during their breeding season. Large scale removal of sagebrush on public and private land also has a detrimental effect on other sagebrush obligates which include 8 species of vertebrates.

I adore the spicy, pungent aroma of sagebrush and every time I see a photo of a Sage Thrasher I can almost smell it. I wish computers had the ability to emit aromas for those of you who have never had the opportunity to get a whiff of sagebrush. Some people hate it but I am in the love it camp.


Wildlife Diversity in Sagebrush Habitats – University of Nevada Reno


  1. Ingrid April 27, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Wow, what I wouldn’t give to see this species, let along capture a photo like the ones you present here. Truly lovely. The vividness of the eye and detail of the spots just keep drawing me to that second shot. I can’t stop looking at it.

  2. Patty Chadwick April 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Love both images…Alas, I also love sage and am very saddened to learn that ranchers are destroying it for more graze…How very, very sad!!! Beef production is extremely costly, in so many ways (including our own health)isn’t it…

  3. Sarah Mayhew April 24, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    Especially love the second shot!

  4. Kathie April 24, 2014 at 4:52 am

    Mia, I love sagebrush and everything that gos with it! I probably have seen this bird but at the time did not know what it was. Wonderful captures here. How sad to hear of the “clear-cutting!”

  5. Chris Rohrer April 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Such a lovely bird and I’m glad they have a place to hang out in Utah. They are a migrating bird here so when I get to see them it’s always a treat.

  6. Elephant's Child April 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    It looks like two different species. Amazing the difference that being alert makes…

  7. Jolanta April 23, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Great photos, thanks 🙂

  8. Utahbooklover April 23, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    I too love the smell of sagebrush, and I love these images. Brushing the snow off the patio furniture this morning, I heard a crow. Finally looked up to see a circling hawk being chased and harassed by a crow maybe 100-feet straight up. Must have a nest somewhere nearby.

  9. Lois Bryan April 23, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Such beautiful, delicate color you’ve captured … and such wonderful detail, as always, Mia!!! A pleasure!!!

  10. Montanagirl April 23, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Fabulous shots of the Thrasher – That second one really pops.

  11. Bob Bushell April 23, 2014 at 7:27 am

    Beautiful design on the Sage Thrashers, excellent photos.

  12. Ashley Beolens April 23, 2014 at 6:22 am

    Wonderful colouring in the photos, feels really relaxing for some reason? Farmers the world over (some not all) seem to place their business above local nature, and it is such a shame.

Comments are closed.