The Varied Thrush
One of Central Oregon's most beautiful birds is the Varied Thrush. While similar in size and shape to the American Robin (another species of thrush), the Varied Thrush has much more prominent markings on the breast and head. The breast and neck are a bright orange, separated by a black chevron at the throat. The black head has a large orange stripe above the eye. The wings are black with two orange bars. Female birds have plumage similar to the male, although the colors are much more muted.
The Varied Thrush tends to nest in heavily forested areas, but will stray more in the fall and winter in search of food. In fact, this time of year it is not uncommon to see them in parks or yards in Bend.
Like Robins, Bluebirds, and all other members of the thrush family, Varied Thrushes rarely eat seed. Their diet consists mainly of insects and fruit. During this time of year when insects are less abundant Varied Thrushes frequently consume bark butter bits or mealworms, especially if offered in an open tray feeder. Providing liquid water in the winter is attractive to Varied Thrushes, as well as many other bird species.
When hiking in forest next spring, listen for the long, eerie, single pitch whistle of the Varied Thrush. Perhaps it is the same bird you enjoyed seeing in your yard during the fall and winter.