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Curve-billed Thrashers are a common sight in the Tucson area. Every neighborhood has its population of these handsome birds. I’ve photographed them on numerous occasions in a wide variety of settings.
A couple of weeks ago I was driving through the grasslands of Sonoita when I saw a thrasher sitting on a fencepost. I thought that the bird would make a nice image, so I trained my lens on it.
I did a bit of a double take when I viewed the bird through my viewfinder. The Curve-billed Thrashers that I’ve seen on many occasions have breasts showing a very faint pattern of spots. But this individual had a bold pattern of spots on its breast. It definitely did not look like any of the thrashers that I’ve seen and photographed over the years.
I found out when I got home that there is a population of Curve-billed Thrashers that inhabit the western deserts of New Mexico and the eastern part of Arizona, referred to as Chihuahuan variants, who have boldly spotted breasts and abdomens. This bird clearly belonged to that group.
I was a bit surprised in that Sonoita is only about 50 miles southeast of Tucson and is at least a 90-minute drive from the Arizona-New Mexico border. Evidently, the Chihuahuan variant of the species has a range that includes our southeastern grasslands..
Image made with a Canon R5, Canon EF 400mm f4 DO II lens+Canon EF 1.4x telextender, M setting (auto ISO), ISO 800, f5.6 @ 1/1600, +1 stop exposure compensation.