We are now fairly certain (after much stalking, watching, attempting to get photos) that this is the kind of bird that has built a nest in the bush by our front porch.
Here is the nest...the way we usually see it. The mama bird flies away almost immediately every time we go down the stairs.
Here are a couple more shots. I have to get the photos from a decent distance to not scare her away, then when I zoom they are blurry. But her markings are just like the ones in the first photo I found online.
The final confirmation was when I finally got a good look at the beak. It is long like the photos of the brown thrasher. Katie thinks that everything about the bird and eggs and nest are just adorable. I hope we haven't disturbed her too much. Now that we have confirmed the type of bird, we will just wait for the eggs to hatch. The eggs incubate for 11-14 days, so probably another week and a half till they hatch. I just found out that they are very serious defenders of their nests, so we will have to be extremely careful. I am so excited that we are getting to see something like this so conveniently. We had scheduled our first science unit all about birds to begin in July, so this will be a great way to lead in!