Monday, October 22, 2012

Varied Thrush! Christmas Mtns Oasis!

Carolyn Ohl-Johnson's Christmas Mountains Oasis
Terlingua Ranch area 
south Brewster County.

^^click link above for her Christmas Mountains Oasis blog.  It is worth the look.^^

What an important area for Texas ornithology.  Carolyn has worked incredibly hard for her habitat over the years.
An important area.
An important person.

Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)

Heidi and I got there in the heat of the afternoon.  We had to see this bird, but schedules weren't fitting together.  It was decided to push to go to Carolyn's this afternoon.

We got out of the car at around 2:50 in the afternoon.  We were on the bird by 3:00.

The thrush flushed up into the dead cottonwood and perched.
Actually showing some methods of thermoregulation.

Like lifting its leg, and thus foot off the surface, maybe catching some breeze.
Still regulating it's temperature, it was just about half asleep for a moment.  We observed the thrush half "shutting its eye", slow blinking on occasion.  The photo above shows the thrush's nictitating membrane.
nic·ti·tat·ing membrane 
A transparent inner eyelid in birds, reptiles, and some mammals that closes to protect and moisten the eye. Also called third eyelid.
Another commonly seen method of regulating temperature for birds is "panting."  This thrush is doing both in the pic above.

Anyways, after some great views it decided to drop down and we lost sight of it.  We likely could have found the bird but decided to let it be for awhile.

This gave us a chance to catch up with Carolyn and K.B. Bryan.

After awhile Carolyn and I decided to get more looks.
The thrush dropped down to one of the water features that is in its favored area

Check out the bead of water between mandibles near the tip end of the beak.  Might have to click to blow up the photo a bit to see it.

Eventually the bird hopped up and out, without much bother, and scampered away.

This is a bird I definitely needed for Texas.  'Twas a lifer for Heidi.

A species I haven't seen east of the Pacific Crest of mountains in western portions of North America.  A secretive bird, perhaps I've hiked right by it in moist montane woodlands out west.

Nevertheless, at Christmas Mountains Oasis, Heidi and I sat, watched it, and eventually left it.

Great bird.


  1. Very nice treatment and a nice selection of images. Thanks for the write-up! Jim Peterson

  2. Super sweet! Great sighting, great photos.

    Thanks for sharing. I'm envious

  3. Thanks, Laurence.

    We had a lot of fun observing this bird. Heidi even went back then next day, which is illustrated on the post most recent from this one.

    Glad you're still reading. :)

  4. Great photos y'all. I would love to see this bird but making a trip west will be nearly impossible until Thanksgiving. Having seen many of them from central CA to Vancouver, BC, I still "need" Varied Thrush for Texas. I wish one would show up at my Davis Mountains Oasis!

    1. We're hoping it'll stick around for the winter! Otherwise, we'll have to hope for a good irruption in the Guads - at least it's slightly more likely in the Davis Mts than down here in Marathon =)