Crissal Thrasher - Bosque del Apache NWR - Jan. 2018

     On a recent visit to the Bosque del Apache NWR in New Mexico, I spotted a Crissal Thrasher as it emerged, ever so briefly, from the thickets surrounding the parking areas at the visitor information center. This was a "lifer" (first sighting) for me. I was walking through the brushy areas with D500, 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4x teleconverter in my hand looking for Gambel's Quail that are often seen here. When the thrasher made a dash from beneath one shrub to another, I snapped two frames. Amazingly, all of the bird was in both frames and both were in focus.

     The Crissal Thrasher is found in the Southwestern U.S. and down to central Mexico. Two quotes from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website explain my excitement about getting this shot of the bird. I highlighted two phrases in the quotes and added a definition of crissum. Also, note that the light iris of the bird is a key feature for identification.

     "Although widely distributed from southeastern California and southwestern Utah to central Mexico, the Crissal Thrasher remains poorly known, and the dearth of comprehensive data on the species seems attributable to two of the bird's notable characteristics: first, its preference over much of the U.S. range for dense, brushy habitats, which in desert landscapes are generally infrequent, patchily distributed, and often narrowly restricted to larger arroyos (dry washes) or mesquite (Prosopis spp.) thickets; and second, its decidedly reclusive habits." 

     "On closer observation, its plain appearance is offset by a long, sickle-shaped bill, occasional glimpses when the tail is raised of its strikingly reddish cinnamon crissum*, and buoyant, energetic, and entertaining foraging behavior as it explores with active, probing bill and long, sturdy legs the potential arthropod prey beneath a dense shrub."

*crissum - the area between its tail and vent (the external opening through which fecal matter and uric acid is excreted).

Click on the image for a larger view.

Crissal Thrasher - Bosque del Apache NWR - Jan. 2018

D500 with 500mm f/4 lens and 1.4x teleconverter, handheld
1/3200 sec at f/7.1, ISO 720
This is the full frame - i.e., not cropped.

David Sparks

I retired in 2005 after 40 years of research and teaching at the University of Alabama in Birmingham (24 years), the University of Pennsylvania (8 years) and the Baylor College of Medicine (8 years). Photography is my retirement hobby.

Nature photography, especially bird photography, combines a number of things that I really enjoy: bird-watching, being outdoors, photography, travel, messing about with computers, and learning new skills and concepts.  I now spend much of my time engaged in these activities.

David Sibley in the preface to The Sibley Guide to Birds wrote "Birds are beautiful, in spectacular as well as subtle ways; their colors, shapes, actions, and sounds are among the most aesthetically pleasing in nature."  My goal is to acquire images that capture the beauty and uniqueness of selected species as well as images that highlight the engaging behaviors the birds exhibit.