Return to Main Page   Dakota Birder Blog    

Varied Thrush

Ixoreus naevius

Length: 9 inches Wingspan: 14 to 16 inches Seasonality: Winter
ID Keys: Orange throat, breast and eyebrow, black necklace, orangish wing-bars.

Varied Thrush - Ixoreus naeviusThe Varied Thrush is normally a bird of the Pacific Northwest, western Canada, and Alaska.  In winter, however, some birds wander widely, reaching South Dakota and occasionally even reaching the East Coast of the U.S.  They generally spend the majority of their time on the ground, and can be difficult to spot as they forage through dense forest undergrowth.  Their haunting calls are often heard echoing through the forest, however.

Habitat: Generally breeds in wet, dense coniferous forest near the coast.  During migration and in the winter, still prefers dense coniferous forest, but can be found in other areas with thick undergrowth.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects and spiders in the summer, along with earthworms and snails.  Primarily feeds on fruit and berries in the winter, along with some seeds.

Behavior: Often forages on the ground, walking or hopping along in its search for food, sometimes using its bill to look under leaves and other debris.  Will also forage up in the foliage of trees and shrubs.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Long breathy whistled note.  At a distance, it almost sounds like distant squeaky car brakes to me!

Migration: Summers from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S., up through western Canada and most of Alaska.  Usually winters near the western coast of Canada or the western tier of U.S. states, although some wander widely in the winter and may even reach the east coast of the United States.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Varied Thrush sightings

Similar Species: American Robin

Feeders: Will sometimes attend feeders for fruit and some seeds.

Conservation Status: Widespread and fairly common throughout its range. Numbers may be decreasing somewhat, but there is currently no threat to overall populations. The IUCN considers the Varied Thrush to be a species of Least Concern.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Varied Thrush

2) Audubon Field Guide - Varied Thrush

3) WhatBird - Varied Thrush

Photo Information: June 28th, 2011 - Ecola State Forest in coastal Oregon - Terry Sohl


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Varied Thrush - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare winter visitor.

Additional Varied Thrush Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Varied Thrush - Ixoreus naeviusVaried Thrush - Ixoreus naevius