Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Rara Avis

If you live in Alaska, the U.S. Pacific Northwest, the Yukon or British Columbia where Ixoreus naevius is a permanent or breeding resident you might catch sight of this shy, reclusive bird. You have to be very lucky to chance upon a Varied Thrush in southern Ontario, although due to the wandering tendencies of some individuals this bird has been known to turn up not only on the east coast of Canada, but in Iceland, and there's an accepted 1982 record for Great Britain.

My brother first sighted and identified the thrush when it visited his bird feeder at Lot 19, Concession 14, north of Tweed on February 28th, 2013. The photos below were taken by my friend Jason King on the following day using a Canon PowerShot SX40 HS. We had to make two trips north of town and spend a total of three and a half hours standing in the cold before this wary bird showed itself, and we couldn't approach it any closer than about twenty feet. Nevertheless, it was worth the wait and minor discomfort to be able catch a few glimpses of this attractive bird, all the more beautiful because of its rarity – I might never see another Varied Thrush in my lifetime!

The bird visited the feeder daily for eleven days and was last seen on Sunday, March 10th. In the interim, on March 3rd, my youngest sib Ildiko Olive visited the site and managed to capture a few more long distance shots of the Varied Thrush with her little point-and-shoot camera, a Canon PowerShot A3300 IS.

An amusing shot of the bird in mid-air while it was hopping.

Learn more about the Varied Thrush at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website.