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Varied Thrush


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

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.


Male Varied Thrushes sing a whistled, flutelike, sometimes burry tone on a single pitch. They sing mainly in the morning and evening, usually from the top of live conifers. Each song lasts about 2 seconds and is followed by a pause of 3–20 seconds. Successive tones may be on different pitches. This cycle is repeated for 10–15 minutes, until the bird flies to a new perch and starts again.


  • Song, call
  • Courtesy of Macaulay Library
    © Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Both males and females make a variety of calls, usually in aggression or defense. Those calls include a short trill, a harsh churrr, and a series of low chect notes.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

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.

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.



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