Just after Christmas Day 2017, a bird I had never seen before showed up under our huge white spruces in the front yard. He was about the size of a robin, hopped around like one as he fed on the ground and even showed orange splashes in the breast so I assumed it was one. Even though I was fully aware that some robins never go south and winter in Duluth, MN, curiosity made me take a second look at this wintering robin. That second look showed me it wasnt a robin at all. As a matter of fact it had not only a bright yellow-orange breast but bright yellow-oranges in the wings as well, contrasting sharply with black and blue grays throughout the body. This sent me to the bird book to see what this bird was. I had clearly never seen anything like this before and had no idea where to even look. It reminded me of a robin so I started there, and there it was on the same page with robins and thrushes. It was a varied thrush.
Finding out more about this male varied thrush I was able to learn that it is from the West Coast, generally found from Alaska to California. At times it winters out of its normal range, classifying it as a vagrant or accidental, moving east sometimes to the East Coast and even the United Kingdom or Iceland. At least one varied thrush is reported in Minnesota each winter but it is rare.