Sage Thrashers Aplenty

A Sage Thrasher with its eye on a Paper WaspA Sage Thrasher with its eye on a Paper Wasp – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

There are Sage Thrashers aplenty on Antelope Island State Park right now and they have been thrashing, dashing and singing their little hearts out the last three trips I have made out to the island. It is very hot and the Deer Flies are ripping into my skin but I’m not about to let those Deer Flies stop me from photographing the Sage Thrashers. I guess no one has told the Deer Flies that I am human and not a deer.

On June 24th while I was photographing the Sage Thrasher above a Paper Wasp flew in close to the thrasher and the thrasher kept a close eye on it, I thought the bird might try to snatch the wasp out of the air but it didn’t and the wasp flew off.

Alert Sage ThrasherAlert Sage Thrasher – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1250, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Sage Thrashers aren’t easy to get close to so I have been happy that they have been approachable but they are always alert whether it is because of humans being close, traffic or keeping an eye out for prey. This one was perched on a Rabbitbrush taking a look at its territory. I wondered if it had a nest nearby.

A pair of Sage Thrashers on a RabbitbrushA pair of Sage Thrashers on a Rabbitbrush – Nikon D300, f11, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Yesterday I spotted a bird diving into the base of a Rabbitbrush and we stopped to see if it would come back up, I’m glad we stopped because when we did I noticed a Sage Thrasher chick run into the brush and before long the adult popped up on the top of the Rabbitbrush.  The adult bird did pop up and it had an insect in its bill, I do have images of that but I will post those later.

At one point in the distance I saw this pair of adult Sage Thrashers perched close to each other.

Back view of a Sage ThrasherBack view of a Sage Thrasher – Nikon D300, f8, 1/400, ISO 200, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The pair also seemed fond of this perch which is a dead part of another Rabbitbrush and they spent time there looking around. I kept hoping that the chick I saw would fly up to be fed by its parents. No such luck yesterday but I have a feeling it won’t be long until we see them do just that.

Preening one tiny featherPreening one tiny feather – Nikon D300, f8, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

One of the adults decided to preen while it was perched on these twigs, I do wish I would have had a bit more eye contact than I was able to capture in this frame but I like the pose anyway because of how the thrasher has just one feather in its bill.

Preening Sage ThrasherPreening Sage Thrasher – Nikon D300, f8, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The Sage Thrasher seemed to ignore the big lenses pointed at it and continued to preen and fluff. Ideally I wish that the two twigs sticking up behind the thrasher weren’t there but they were and I’m not keen on cloning things out.

Fluffed up Sage ThrasherFluffed up Sage Thrasher – Nikon D300, f8, 1/500, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I enjoyed all the different poses this Sage Thrasher showed while it preened yesterday, it also might have felt good when it fluffed like this if it allowed some of the heat under them to dissipate. Me? I was swatting Deer Flies off of my exposed skin, nasty buggers. They made me miss some shots!

Sage Thrasher perchedSage Thrasher perched – Nikon D300, f8, 1/800, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

An interesting tidbit about Sage Thrashers: They recognize and remove the eggs of Brown Cowbirds who attempt to parasitize their nests so they raise their own chicks unlike other birds that don’t remove the eggs and end up raising the Brown Cowbird chicks instead of their own broods.

I hope the Sage Thrashers chicks start being visible too but in the meantime there are still Sage Thrashers aplenty on Antelope Island!

Mia

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