Song of the Varied Thrush

The echoey call of the Varied Thrush reminds me how  fortunate I am to work surrounded by forest.  I have been slow to learn birds, maybe because I’ve always had dogs with me when I’m outdoors.  But PJ The Springer Spaniel is getting old and I have to put her inside to rest for most of the day.  So I see more birds now.   I don’t see the Varied Thrush very much; they are quite shy.  But I hear them.  One or two have been calling this morning off in the distance, a long single note.  This beautiful song inspired me to read up on them.  They winter in the lowlands and will soon be heading for the mountains to breed.  Seattle Audubon has a good description and the song at http://www.birdweb.org/birdweb/bird_details.aspx?id=355#wa_map.

The Varied Thrush, like most birds, needs lots of cover: native trees and shrubs, especially conifer trees. They are not very common in urban areas where there is not much cover.  During the winter, they depend on seeds and berries that they glean from shrubs and the forest floor.  In warmer seasons, they also eat insects and worms. 

Russell Link’s book Landscaping for Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest gives tips on “managing your property for birds”, including ensuring that you keep a variety of levels or “layers” of vegetation: groundcovers, short and tall shrubs, short and tall trees that together fulfill a variety of habitat needs for different birds even in a relatively small area.   And you know from an earlier blog post (“Leaving”) about the value of leaving leaves on the ground.  Native birds need native plants!

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