Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Brown thrashers and garden toads

Yesterday, I surprised a rather large garden toad next to the hose faucet in the back. I was surprised myself. We had a toad living in the basement a few years back (the basement is bare floored and unfinished), but I hadn't seen one outside for sometime.

This evening, I saw a brown thrasher getting dinner through the kitchen window. She/he was very vigorously poking through the straw mulch into the recently clipped radicchio bed. Interestingly, when I did a web search about the diet of brown thrashers, I found out that they're prodigious insect-eaters and eaters of all sorts of garden critters bad and good -- insects of all sorts, from beetles to grubs and earthworms, etc. They also eat fruits, but insects are over half their diet. One source, I'm not sure how reliable, suggested that a single thrasher ate over 6000 insects a day (this sounds like a lot to me, even for birds with a high metabolism). Brown thrashers build big twiggy nests, and sing beautifully in spring. We've had a nesting pair in the large Ternstromia hedge along the vegetable garden for the last two years. They're also fun when they visit the ground-level saucer and have a bath, vigorously cleaning all their feathers and fluffing up.

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