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Bendire's Thrasher Toxostoma bendirei
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it is suspected to be undergoing a rapid decline. However, recent trends are poorly documented, and further information may warrant a revision of its status. Putative threats are poorly understood, but the species may be negatively impacted by habitat destruction and degradation resulting from agricultural expansion and development.

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

25 cm. Small, drab almost uniformly brown thrasher. Similar spp. Told from similar Curve-billed Thrasher T. curvirostre by its smaller size; shorter, straighter bill; paler, yellow iris; small triangular (not round) spots on breast; buffy (not dark) malar; and buff-brown (not grayish) flanks. Voice Slow choppy phrases of semi-musical thrush-like whistles and chattering calls.

Distribution and population
Toxostoma bendirei is found in south-west USA and north-west Mexico, from southern Nevada, southern Utah and south-western Colorado south to central Sonora. Its status in Baja California is unresolved (England and Laudenslayer 1993, Brewer and MacKay 2001). Within this range its distribution is patchy and in some cases poorly known (owing to low observer density in desert regions and confusion with other similar Toxostoma species) (England and Laudenslayer 1993). Individuals in the northern portion of the range migrate south in the winter and overlap with more southern residents (England and Laudenslayer 1993, Brewer and MacKay 2001). The species is now so rare that trends cannot be estimated reliably from Breeding Bird Survey data (J. Wells, K. Rosenberg and E. Inigo in litt. 2003), but declines between 1966 and 2003 equate to 34.5%.

Population justification
Rich et al. (2003).

Trend justification
This species has undergone a large and statistically significant decrease over the last 40 years in North America (-90.6% decline over 40 years, equating to a -44.7% decline per decade; data from Breeding Bird Survey and/or Christmas Bird Count: Butcher and Niven 2007). The BBS trend analyses for the ten-year period from 1993-2002 and the 21-year period 1980-2002 show no significant trends, but this is attributable to the fact that few birds are encountered anymore because they are so rare across the species range (J. Wells, K. Rosenberg and E. Inigo in litt. 2003).

It is found in sparse desert habitats from sea level in Sonora to approximately 1,800 m in Utah (England and Laudenslayer 1993, Brewer and MacKay 2001). Throughout its range, breeders favour relatively open grassland, shrubland or woodland with scattered shrubs or trees; it is not found in dense vegetation. It forages primarily on the ground, probing for insects and other arthropods, but will also eat seeds and berries (England and Laudenslayer 1993). It also digs with its bill, but less frequently, not as powerfully nor as efficiently as other thrashers (England and Laudenslayer 1993). In the Mojave desert, California, migration begins as soon as breeding finishes, with breeding grounds vacated by late August (Brewer and MacKay 2001).

Populations have been eliminated by dense urbanisation around Tucson and by large scale agriculture along the Gila River. In California potential threats may include harvesting of Joshua trees and other yuccas, overgrazing and off-road vehicle activity. However, there have been suggestions that clearing and agricultural activities actually favour this species (England and Laudenslayer 1993). Competition with the Curve-billed Thrasher Toxostroma curvirostre for a depleted food supply may have contributed to a decline in the population.

Conservation Actions Underway
The species has been classified as a "Species of Special Concern" by California Department of Fish and Game, and protected from take. No information exists on other management actions (England and Laudenslayer 1993). The species occurs within a number of protected areas. Conservation Actions Proposed
Research its ecology and determine key habitat requirements. Research the benefits of an increase in scattered junipers from grazing. Study potential competition with Curve-billed Thrashers. Avoid disturbance to and development of important habitats. Determine the taxonomy of Baha Californian populations.

Brewer, D.; MacKay, B. K. 2001. Wrens, dippers and thrashers. Christopher Helm, London.

England, A. S.; Laudenslayer, W. F., Jr. 1993. Bendire's Thrasher Toxostoma bendirei. In: Poole, A.; Gill, F. (ed.), The birds of North America, No. 71, pp. 1-16. The Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia and the American Ornithologists' Union, Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

Rich, T.D.; Beardmore, C.J.; Berlanga, H.; Blancher, P.J.; Bradstreet, M.S.W.; Butcher, G.S.; Demarest, D.W.; Dunn, E.H.; Hunter, W.C.; Inigo-Elias, E.E.; Martell, A.M.; Panjabi, A.O.; Pashley, D.N.; Rosenberg, K.V.; Rustay, C.M.; Wendt, J.S.; Will, T.C.

Further web sources of information
Audubon WatchList

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Harding, M., Sharpe, C J

Inigo, E., Rosenberg, K., Wells, J.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Toxostoma bendirei. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Mimidae (Mockingbirds and thrashers)
Species name author (Coues, 1873)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 823,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species