Living Bird Magazine
Varied ThrushIxoreus naevius
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Turdidae
The Varied Thrush’s simple, ringing song gives a voice to the quiet forests of the Pacific Northwest, with their towering conifers and wet understories of ferns, shrubs, and mosses. Catch a glimpse of this shy bird and you’ll see a handsome thrush with a slaty gray back and breast band set against burnt-orange breast and belly. Common in the Cascades, Northern Rockies, and Pacific Coast, Varied Thrushes forage for insects in summer and switch to berries and seeds in winter.More ID Info
Find This Bird
In the dim, dense forests where Varied Thrushes breed, your first clue that a bird is around will probably be its sweet, echoing, simple song. Look for foraging Varied Thrushes on the ground in small openings, but look for singing birds at higher perches in the understory and lower layers of the forest. In winter, Varied Thrushes show up south of their breeding range and often come to feeders or yards.
- Zorzal Pinto (Spanish)
- Grive à collier (French)
In the winter Varied Thrushes will eat seed from ground feeders. Planting native fruiting shrubs is also a good way to attract them to your yard. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.
- Cool Facts
- Louis Agassiz Fuertes, a twentieth-century bird artist and friend of Cornell Lab founder Arthur Allen, described the Varied Thrush’s simple, contemplative song “as perfectly the voice of the cool, dark peaceful solitude which the bird chooses for its home as could be imagined.”
- Varied Thrushes are often aggressive toward each other and other bird species. At feeders, males sometimes defend small feeding territories, where they dominate sparrows, blackbirds, cowbirds, towhees and juncos. They usually defer to California Quails, Northern Flickers, Western Scrub-Jays, and American Robins. The only time Varied Thrushes flock with other species is when they occasionally forage for berries or earthworms on lawns with American Robins.
- Long-term data collected by participants of Project FeederWatch have shown that Varied Thrush populations go up and down on a 2-year cycle.
- The oldest Varied Thrush on record was a male, and at least 4 years, 9 months old when he was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California in 1982. He had been banded in the same state in 1978.