WatchList Species Account for Le Conte’s Thrasher
(Toxostoma lecontei)

Qualifies for the list as a Declining Yellow List Species


Le Conte's Thrasher
Photo: Glen Tepke

Le Conte’s Thrasher is a permanent resident of the deserts of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. An uncommon and hard-to-find bird, it characteristically exists only in low densities; in good habitat for the bird there may be only 10 adults per square kilometer.


The Le Conte's Thrasher prefers a nest site of cholla cactus or dense, thorny desert shrub such as saltbush or shadscale. Its typical habitats are sparsely vegetated desert flats, dunes, or gently rolling hills.


An important habit component is accumulated leaf letter, since this species feeds almost entirely on arthropods taking shelter in this substrate. Le Conte's Thrasher also consumes plant seeds, and will take small snakes, lizards, and bird’s eggs. Since this species inhabits an environment where surface water is rare, all its basic water requirements are met through its diet.


Though the extent of the Le Conte's Thrasher's known range has not changed since the late 19th century, much of its U.S. habitat within that range has been lost to development, resulting in great drops in local numbers. One significant threat to this species is degradation and destruction of habitat by ATV use. These vehicles crush vegetation and destroy underlying litter and soil surface, making the area unsuitable for this thrasher. Livestock grazing often destroys vegetation, and similarly eliminates habitat.


Large desert areas set aside for conservation administered by the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management will help protect this species.