We spotted a strange sight this June when Nelson pointed out what looked like a Brown Thrasher without a tail. I reached for my camera and zoomed in to confirm the yellow eye and slightly curved bill. It even acted like a Brown Thrasher. (Video at bottom of post.)
|Brown Thrasher with Missing Tail, June 2020, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan|
For further confirmation on the identity of this bird, I posted an image on the Facebook group, Sask Birders. Soon enough, another member said she had seen a Brown Thrasher in the mouth of a fox going one way, and minutes later, a Brown Thrasher without a tail running the other way. She added that the tail feathers grew back over time. I wonder if this is a defense mechanism.
Brown Thrashers are rusty or reddish-brown on the topside with a beautiful long tail which is sometimes pointed high. It's very noticeable, especially when they fly up and away from you.
|Brown Thrasher, June 2019, Regina, Saskatchewan.|
However, the wing bars on my image of the Brown Thrasher without a tail seem almost nonexistant, and it's hard to tell if the wings are the correct length for an adult thrasher, such as the one shown in the above photo which I took a year ago, in June 2019.
A check through my photo files brought up two interesting photos of Brown Thrashers. The first is a photo of a juvenile taken in June 2012 where I spotted one camouflaged under the evergreens in our shelterbelt while an adult kept watch nearby.
|Brown Thrasher Juvenile, June 2012, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan|
The wing bars on the Brown Thrasher in this next photo made me think of a juvenile, but it has the long tail of an adult. Because this photo was taken in September of last year, I now believe it's a Brown Thrasher in molt. Mid-July to September is prime season for birds to shed their old feathers and grow new strong ones for the long trip to their wintering grounds, so if you see a bird who appears to have lost its dignity along with its beauty, and it's too old to be a juvenile, it's probably molting.
|Brown Thrasher in Molt, September 2019, RM Montmartre, Saskatchewan|
Here's the video I took of the Brown Thrasher without a tail, which is also available on my YouTube channel. https://youtu.be/YKRICrGNpXo