Documentation of Varied Thrush

Observer Information

Reporter:  Gary Witt   
Other Observers:  A group of 8 including the DFO leader Chris Owens, Paul Slingsby, Greg Witt (my brother) and myself.; Yes, I was the original individual to call out the identity. Others were able to view and confirm this ID.

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Varied Thrush
First Date/Time:  10/20/2012
Last Date/Time:  10/20/2012
Duration (total time in view):  3-5 minutes
County:  Morgan
Specific Location:  Inlet canal to Prewitt Reservoir
Number:  1
Age:  Unknown
Sex:  Male
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


This area was wood with limited understory along the west side of the inlet canal to Prewitt Reservoir.

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  10x42 binoculars (Bushnell); photographed by a Canon 7D with Tamron 200-500mm lens.
Distance:  Estimated distance of 30-40 feet.
Light:  The bird was back lit at about 2 o'clock position. The days was slightly overcast.

Description of the Bird

This bird flew into a willow or cottonwood tree along the entrance canal to Prewitt Reservoir as observed by others. Numerous individuals tried to get a good look but were impeded by foliage. I was able to get binoculars on it first and called it out as a Varied Thrush. My first impression was that of an American Robin relative to size and posture. The bird was backlit and had a reddish orange breast. Upon viewing with binoculars one could recognize the large dark band through the eye with its connection to a dark breast-band. As others were able to observe the bird, the orange wing bars. patterned wings, and orange "eyebrow" (supercilium) was also noted. At least two individuals (including myself) were able to photograph the bird.
Behaviors: The bird flew into a willow or narrowleaf cottonwood where it was first noted. The bird stayed in the tree for several minutes and then moved across the canal to a Russian Olive tree where it was mostly hidden from view. We found no evidence that it was traveling with any other birds and no other birds were in the immediate area. The group decided not to pursue it at that point.
Call: This bird did not make any calls or noise as I recall.
Plumage: Typical male plumage

Similar Species Discussion

Similar to American Robin in size but dark bands at eye and breast set it apart.

Resources Used

Sibleys smartphone application.

Previous Experience

No similar experience in that this was a life bird for me. I had been specifically looking for thrushes this summer and fall so had spent time with the Sibley's field guide on thrushes.



Additional Information

Comments: I suggest you interview Chris Owens (field trip leader) and Paul Slingby (both regular birders and field trip leaders for DFO).
Time: about 10:30 AM
Other Dates:
Nearest Town: Sterling
Independent Observers: Yes, I was the original individual to call out the identity. Others were able to view and confirm this ID.

Materials Available

Photographer: Gary Witt

Photos |

2199_abcd0Varied Thrush #1.jpg
2199_abcd1Varied Thrush #2.jpg

Date Documentation Submitted

12/2/2012 10:19:00 PM
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