Friday, April 8, 2011

Meet Mr. Trasher--I Mean Thrasher

With a nose like Jimmy Durante's he's hard to miss in your garden. Photo courtesy of Las Pilitas Nursery--link at the end of this article.

I noticed him first in the bird bath several months ago. He was hard to miss. He has a nose like a steam shovel. I called my sister who knows a lot about birds and we decided he was a Thrasher, either Le Conte or California.

Since his habitat is the chaparral, we figured he was just passing through.

But he was not. I saw him more frequently. Turns out he wasn't just digging up my roots, he was putting them down as well. So to speak.

I saw him digging a few days ago for bugs in the back lawn. And he was tossing up more divots than a bad golfer. Fortunately, the back garden isn't as formal as the front, and as it sits adjacent to the vegetable garden I'm happy to have Mr. Thrasher trashing the grub colony.

My friend from childhood, Leslie, a nature lover, says the Thrasher usually lives in chaparral, and my property must be just close enough to the foothills to make him think he's in his zone.

He's a curious fellow. When you approach him, he hops, rather than flies away. Leslie reports that Thrashers like to stay near the ground and thus are known to be very alarmed at the approach of cats.

Since Mr. Thrasher loves to dig, I began to worry about the front garden. You remember what it looked like when my resident 'possum, and his friend the skunk had a sort of mud wrestling event and took some of my lawn out in the process.

Fun with sod at Fort Chapman, earlier this season.

We found the marsupial and his stinky friend recalcitrant and recidivist, and elected to have them "relocated" by the Creature Capture company. We asked them no questions. Then we replanted the sod.

Thanks to a neighbor with a landscaping company we were able to get the damage repaired.

The lawn is now growing back nicely and the front garden is looking lovely after the rain.

We've had an abundance of rain this spring, always a blessing in California with its dry summers.

I did see the Mr. Thrasher attack the new sod in the front garden about a week ago, and after I chased him away, I place screens there in order to discourage him. In the meantime, my pyracantha, golden current, and Toyon berries are all out and he's found them a distraction from the lawn. Praise be.

It's a good thing. If he even looks sideways at that front sod, I'll have a big surprise in store for him.

I'll get myself a cat.

Don't look at me that way. You're the one who decided Fort Chapman was in the chaparral!


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Laura said...

Just today I was driving down the main artery of our subdivision when a roadrunner dashed out of the bushes to my left and scampered across the street into some lovely bushes planted by the homeowner.

When we first moved to Santa Clarita 8 years ago, it wasn't unusual to see the little rascals around, but I haven't seen them in years. They're so cute.

This reminds me of another "bird" incident: We had just moved to Atlanta. My in-laws were there to occupy the toddlers while I unpacked, and I looked out my backyard window and saw, to my delight, a full-grown, bright red, absolutely gorgeous woodpecker. I got my FIL and together we watched him do his thing. I didn't even think to get a camera ~ I suppose I assumed he'd be around all the time. I never saw him again, but I will never, ever forget the sight of that gorgeous creature.

Robin Chapman said...

Birds are fascinating, aren't they? We used to see Roadrunners in Phoenix when we spent a few months there for my mother's health many years ago. We had never seen birds that zoomed around on the ground like that. Was the woodpecker you saw extra large? It may have been a pileated woodpecker. They usually travel in twos, make a very funny sound--sort of like a cackle--and often stop by to grab a few bugs when they are migrating. They are quite a sight.