There are many harbingers of spring — crocuses, pussy willows, migrating tundra swans, the return of robins and Juncos, the emergence of bears. You start seeing all of these in K-Country in mid- to late-March.
One of our favourites is the return of the Varied Thrush, Ixoreus naevius. After spending their winters on the west coast as far south as the Baja in Mexico, they start showing up in the end of March, and we find them easiest to see as they arrive and look for homes among the conifers.
This is an absolutely beautiful bird, with splashes of black and orange, looking like it should arrive for Halloween instead of March. The males are much more brightly coloured than the females, but the females are still very pretty despite the more muted colours and increased grey tones. Its song is glorious: three sustained notes that sound like a cross between a whistle and a hum. There are four sub-species; ours is I. n. naevius. The others are found more west all the way to the coast, including a separate subspecies resident on Haida G’waii.
Varied Thrush like damp coniferous forests, of which there are many in K-Country. Their diet is mostly bugs (primarily spiders), but they will eat seeds and berries. They rarely hunt for food anywhere but on the ground.
A nice thing about the Varied Thrush is that it’s not a little bird; it’s a little bigger than a robin. Given that nothing other than a Redstart is a similar colour, they’re easy to identify when seen.
Meet some of the other cool critters of K-Country here!