|Quarry Trail Staging Area, Berkeley Hills|
Does anyone know? All I know is that I had not seen (nor heard of) this pretty bird until three years ago when I pulled over during a bike ride to see what a group of people with binoculars and high-powered camera equipment were looking at in a swathe of copse adjacent to the East Bay Regional Park Botanic Gardens parking lot - two Varied Thrushes flying around and ground feeding. I must have watched them for an hour. For the next several rides whenever I passed by that area, I always stopped to see if I could spot the Varied Thrushes, and often did, but eventually they left and did not return.
|Jewish Community Center property, Berkeley|
In the intervening years, I spotted Varied Thrushes just a couple of times, each sighting an occasion of joy and wonderment at the exciting presence of this special bird emblazoned with an orange breast and eye stripes and slate blue body with a distinctive band running across the throat. But lately, just in the past few months, it's been nothing but Varied Thrushes! I can count a dozen sightings over the past month alone, mostly in Berkeley, to the point of finding myself less and less enthused with a Varied Thrush sighting today. I hesitate to call it a downgrade, but truly the Varied Thrush has gone from rare to downright common. Which is kinda sad, because the mystique (and thrill) is gone. . .
|Mount Diablo State Park, Mitchell Canyon Trail|
And, I wonder, what or who killed the bird? I examined the fresh little corpse to glean any forensic clue I could about cause of death. Could a cat have mangled him? A forest hawk took him down? With no evidence of blood or mutilation, it doesn't seem likely the thrush was killed for a meal, else why was the corpse still lying there? Could it have been old age? Just fell from a tree top, dead. What about the idea the bird was poisoned somehow by berries or snail bait, or something like that? I may never know the mystery of the dead Varied Thrush in Codornices Park, but Viva Aves and RIP, little friend.