First of Season: Varied Thrush

Varied ThrushWe had our first frost a few days ago. I remember my wife Tina remarking, “We should be seeing Varied Thrushes any day now.” Sure enough, this morning I noticed one, then two, then a small flock, in our backyard. They were feeding on apples that dropped from our trees.

Like many migrating birds, the thrushes were hyper-alert to danger, and several flew off when I very slowly lifted the window blinds to take photos from 25 feet away.

Varied Thrushes spend warmer seasons at higher elevations. When weather turns cold, they seek lower elevations such as ours (less than 200 feet above sea level). In addition to their lovely coloration (click the photo for a larger image), they have a unique, slightly haunting call: a raspy, trilling whistle that typically alternates between closely-pitched notes. Listen to the call (note: there’s also a Song Sparrow call in the middle of this recording).

Thanks to Martyn Stewart ( for permission to use his audio recording.

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