A male Varied Thrush has spent the winter in our back garden, lurking in the shade of the cedars. It’s drawn-out, eerie, melancholy whistle echoes through the trees early in the mornings. The thrush’s plumage is cryptic; the colours blend perfectly with leaves and fallen cedar twigs. It spends a lot of time just sitting still, either on the ground or on a high branch. A female has sometimes been seen, too. Her plumage is similar but with softer hues, lacking the dark facial markings of the male.
A few thrushes stay to nest in the last remaining delta forests, such as those on Point Roberts, WA. Most will only winter here. Their numbers have declined in South Delta, B.C., as housing has filled in many of the older quarter acre lots and large trees have been cut down.
Flocks of thrushes will start moving through our neighbourhood in a few weeks, with American Robins mingling with the Varied Thrushes and maybe the occasional Hermit Thrush. They will head into the forested hillsides further up the Fraser Valley and onto the north shore mountains for the breeding season.