In late September I posted a bunch of Sage Thrasher photos where the birds were perched on wild roses, the day I took those images I was also able to photograph the Sage Thrashers perched on Fragrant Sumacs but didn’t include those photos because my focus for that post was birds on the roses. I’d almost forgotten that I had edited some of the photos of the thrashers on the sumac so today I wanted to share one of those images. Actually this is probably my favorite image of the series I took with this particular thrasher.
Sage Thrasher with Fragrant Sumac berry in mid air – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
It was early in the morning and the sun had just risen above the mountains to the east when a Sage Thrasher landed on a Fragrant Sumac. The Sage Thrasher seemed like it was bathed in golden light when suddenly I saw that it had a sumac berry which it tossed it into the air and proceeded to swallow it whole. When I viewed this photo on my camera LCD I was delighted to see strands of saliva connecting the berry to the bird’s tongue and upper mandible, the chances of getting a shot like this are pretty slim so I almost squealed with joy as I viewed it on my screen.
Close up of Sage Thrasher showing tongue, saliva and a Fragrant Sumac berry in mid air – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light
This is the same photo but I cropped it more so the saliva is a touch more visible than it is in the original image. The saliva connecting the berry to the upper mandible is more visible than the strand connecting it to the tongue of the thrasher but hopefully it can be seen. Right after this photo was taken the thrasher swallowed the berry and it disappeared down the throat of the bird. I continued to photograph the thrasher afterwards as it fluffed, preened, posed and looked around.
Photos like this one than can make this bird photographer want to jump for joy and I am sure I would have had I not been stuck inside a mobile blind.
Life is good.
Sage Thrasher facts and information:
- Sage Thrashers have long legs and tails, yellow eyes, spotted breasts and gray-brown upper parts.
- Sage Thrashers are sagebrush obligates meaning that they require sagebrush for some part of their life cycle.
- They are the smallest of North American Thrashers and are thought to be more closely related to Northern Mockingbirds than thrashers.
- Sage Thrashers are found throughout the western U.S. where they breed exclusively in sagebrush steppe.
- The males are incredible songsters and can sing up to 20 minutes without stopping.
- Sage Thrashers eat terrestrial insects including grasshoppers, ants and ground beetles. They will also eat berries and grapes.
- They are also called “Mountain Mockingbirds”
- Sage Thrashers lay between 4 to 7 eggs which take 13 to 17 days to hatch. Both sexes incubate and they are monogamous.
- Sage Thrashers are migratory.
- Sage Thrasher populations are declining due to habit destruction and may be very susceptible to climate change.