The varied thrush winters along the coast of Alaska, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island. The varied thrush breeds from Alaska to California in forests where spruce trees, alders, and ferns grow. The varied thrush is a large, robin-like bird of the Pacific Northwest. I used to refer to them as winter robins. Similar in size and shape to the robin but slighter in build, the varied thrush is a boldly patterned bird.
They dwell in the mature forests of the Pacific Northwest. In its breeding range, which runs from Alaska to northern California, it inhabits forests dominated by Sitka spruce, red alder, western hemlock, western red cedar, and Douglas fir. In winter it may be found in a broader range of habitats, including parks, gardens, and riparian areas where fruit and berries are abundant.
In the male, the rust-colored belly and throat are interrupted by a black breast band; the female has a lighter, grayish band. A similar band lines the face at the eye. A rust-colored stripe lines the head above the eye-band, and the crown is bluish-gray, as are the back and tail. The wings are boldly patterned with slate, black, and rust. Female patterning is similar, but the back is brownish.
They feed on insects and other invertebrates, obtained mostly from the damp soils under the forest canopy. They also eat fruit and in winter have been known to eat seeds at bird feeders.
The nest, similar to a robin’s but usually with less mud, is found up to 5 m high, against the trunk of young coniferous trees. The three or four eggs are incubated by the female for about 14 days. The Varied Thrush visits our feeders all winter long and brightens up a drab winter day.