Varied Thrush

Zoothera naevia
Range Map

The Varied Thrush breeds in western North America from Alaska to northern California among mature spruce trees, alders and ferns. They spend winters in Central Washington, Oregon and California. In the coastal Pacific Northwest, from Oregon to southeastern Alaska, some of these birds live year round.

Scientific literature describes four subspecies of Varied Thrush:

  • I. n. naevius breeds in southern Alaska, south on the western slope of the Coast and Cascade Mountains, to northern California. They spend winters from British Columbia south to central California.
  • I. n. meruloides breeds in taiga and wet coniferous forests from northern Alaska and western Mackenzie, south through mountains of British Columbia to northwestern Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. They spend winters from British Columbia and northern Idaho and the western Great Basin to central western California and Baja California (Mexico).
  • I. n. carlottae breeds on Queen Charlotte Island in British Columbia, and spends winters from Vancouver Island and southern British Columbia south to California.
  • I. n. godfreii breeds from the southern interior of British Columbia to eastern Washington and western Montana. Their winter range is unknown.

I met my first Varied Thrush in 2005 while driving on the Dempster Highway in the northern Yukon Territory (Canada). It was their haunting songs, buzzing from some high, unseen perches that brought them to my attention. I didn’t meet them again until a small group settled in at the San Diego Botanic Gardens for the winter of 2014-2015). Their striking colors are remarkable!


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