Sage Thrasher Bilateral Wing Display and Courtship Behavior

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Sage Thrasher Bilateral Wing DisplaySage Thrasher Bilateral Wing Display – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Yesterday I had my best opportunities thus far this year to photograph Sage Thrasher courtship behavior and bilateral wing displays on Antelope Island. The Sage Thrasher was on the “wrong” side of the road for the best light but by being south of the thrasher the light was better than other opportunities I have had.

Sage Thrasher Courtship DisplaySage Thrasher Courtship Display – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Sage Thrasher sang almost continuously while it had its wings raised in this display.

Birds of North America states this on their (paid subscription) site about this courtship behavior:

These displays are only rarely seen, and only at low intensities, during renesting attempts or attempts at second nests later in season (TDR), suggesting that their role is largely one of courtship.

Until this year I had never seen this courtship display on Antelope Island or anywhere else for that matter and this year I have seen and photographed it multiple times. I may have been away camping during the small window of time that the Sage Thrashers exhibit this behavior in previous years because I know I wouldn’t have missed it otherwise.

Life sure is interesting when time is spent with birds!



  1. Elephant's Child April 20, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    ‘Look at me! Look at me!’
    And I am looking. And marvelling.

  2. Humming Bird Lover April 20, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    Hi! The bird is yelling do you hear what I said???Dummmie/ Ha ha Great photo’s! Have a great day!

  3. Sarah Mayhew April 20, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Wonderful! I just photographed this same display in CA. Was wondering about it. Thanks for the info!

  4. Susan Stone April 20, 2015 at 9:41 am

    This bird reminds me a lot of Canada Geese who go after each other with necks outstretched. It looks very aggressive.

  5. Patty Chadwick April 20, 2015 at 7:30 am

    WOW! Fascinating display by these birds…especially like everything about the first image…composition, detail, action…great shot!!!!

  6. Carroll Tarvin April 20, 2015 at 7:18 am

    He’s a beauty Mia, and very intent on being heard as well as seen, it appears

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