Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Minette Layne/Wikimedia Commons (CC 2.0)

Varied Thrush, male

Varied Thrush
Ixoreus naevius
Perching Birds | Family: Thrushes, Turdidae

An estimated 35% of the global population of Varied Thrush breeds in the Boreal Forest. 

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Overview

A species endemic to western North America, the Varied Thrush is famous for its amazing song--a series of loud, ringing notes that echo through its mature and old-growth forest nesting habitat. Varied Thrush populations are unusual in that they show regular cycles with peaks of abundance about every two-years. Although the species primarily winters along the Pacific Coast from southern British Columbia to California, it is a rare but regular vagrant across eastern Canada and the U.S. This thrush lives on the shaded floor of coniferous forests. Like the American Robin, it feeds on earthworms and insects in open, bare areas. Because Varied Thrush prefers mature and old-growth coniferous habitat for breeding, it is susceptible to loss of such habitat especially through large clearcuts.

Description

9-10" (23-25 cm). Superficially similar to American Robin. Slate gray upperparts; rusty orange throat and breast interrupted by broad slate-colored or black breast band; 2 orange wing bars; off-white belly. Female is similar, but paler; breast band gray or absent. Young bird's breast band incomplete, frequently with orange and dusky speckles. Flight more undulating than American Robin's.

Voice

Song 2 or 3 buzzy whistles, each drawn out until it fades away, followed by a short silence. Call a low took.

Nesting

3-5 pale blue, spotted eggs in a moss-lined twig cup built in a small tree, sapling, or bush.

Habitat

Dense coniferous or deciduous forests with abundant water.

Range/Migration

Breeds from Alaska and Yukon south to Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana. Winters from coastal Alaska southward.