Thrush-o-Mania! Our 15 Minutes of Reflected Glory Are Not Over

A little more than two weeks ago, I wrote about an avian phenomenon in my back yard that had generated major excitement in the Chicago birding world. Specifically, a bird called the Varied Thrush had adopted the area around our yard as his temporary home. Varied Thrushes are a very big deal in Chicago because they are spotted here only once or twice in any given year (they are fairly common in their normal range in the Pacific Northwest).

Varied Thrush
Varied Thrush in our back yard.

So for the past two weeks, dedicated birders (are there any other kind?) have been braving the cold, standing in the alley behind our fence. They are carrying binoculars and cameras with massive zoom lenses, hoping for a glimpse of the fabulous Varied Thrush.

I’ve wondered just how long this phenomenon would last. Would the Varied Thrush tire of the Paparazzi and find himself  a new home? Would we run out of Varied Thrush enthusiasts, resulting in an empty alley?

Birders standing in the alley behind my house around noon today.

Well, fear not. Fame has not yet soured for our friend the Varied Thrush. And Thrush-o-Mania remains strong, although perhaps a little reduced in intensity. There were at least a dozen bird watchers who showed up in the alley today. I think they all got what they were looking for.

Birder with a serious camera.

I’m thinking about monetizing this Varied Thrush happening. Can I persuade the Varied Thrush to stay longer term? And if so, how about a line of Varied Thrush merchandise – sweatshirts, caps, mugs, Varied Thrush Action Figures …  The kids of a friend of mine are suggesting selling hot coffee and those Styrofoam Also, I really need to think long term. If the Varied Thrush becomes a permanent resident, eventually the excitement for local birders will have to fade. So can I engineer the arrival of other rare birds? Must work on that.

Has your house or garden ever gotten unexpected attention?

50 Comments on “Thrush-o-Mania! Our 15 Minutes of Reflected Glory Are Not Over

  1. Thank you for your generosity! I was there early Superbowl Sunday and got the VT payoff in the cold & snow! Lovely bird! We had a late Hummingbird this past Nov 11 in our Zen Garden that created a bit of a stir with Chicago birders. It only stayed one day tho… still, it was very exciting! Your VT is a happy visitor that may indeed stay for the whole season! How fun!

  2. The Varied Thrush phenomenon has jolted me out of my winter lethargy. I’m going with a friend this coming week to Wild Birds for a consult on feeders & seed. To be honest, your feeders were inspiring when you first showed them to me, and it’s just taken me a while to get off my duff. Thanks, good neighbor, and now to action!

  3. Your publicity machine will need a theme song –

    A-well-a everybody’s heard about the bird
    B-b-b-bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, the bird is the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, b-bird’s the word
    A-well-a bird, bird, bird, well the bird is the word

    • I absolutely need to know: was this a song you already know about, or did you do a google search? Also, I like the idea of birds on surfboards, but the song doesn’t really elaborate on the title.

      • OK, now my kids inform me that I am a complete Dork because I didn’t know that EVERYBODY knows about this song due to being featured on “Family Guy”.

      • I thought that EVERYBODY knew about he bird! I had heard it years ago but saw it again on “Family Guy” and now when we want to be irritating to each other, we ask, “Have you heard?” and when the other asks what, we launch into the song. May you enjoy it similarly. I’m sure that Judy would love for you to sing this to her on a regular basis!

  4. This is so cool! You and your thrush are celebrities. It must be fun to have the interest of so many people, and the birders seem very respectful, keeping behind a fence. Enjoy the fame while it lasts. Not sure about the T shirts and thrush action dolls tho.

    • Behind the fence actually works best because it doesn’t scare away the birds. I’m really disappointed you don’t like the action doll idea. I thought it had great potential.

  5. Okay, I totally think you need to have someone cut out a Varied Thrush Totem Pole that you can put up in front of your house if you are really into monetizing :-) That way, people can find you easily. And maybe you can add a few bistro tables in the garden and sell some overpriced coffee for a chance to have an up close & personal view of the bird! LOL.. Glad your 15 minutes have been extended :-) I am seriously amused by this whole thing. This is a fun story to follow..

  6. Hello Jason, the front has gotten unexpected attention by foreign students who took a couple of photos. I think it was for the hollyhocks as I had a circular stand of them and they rose up to 8′. That was my brief moment of fame.

  7. Wow, I’d be a little unnerved with that many people with high powered cameras that close to my house, but since I have a birder in my family (my Dad) I totally understand. My garden has yet to achieve that level of fame, I may have to fabricate some Sasquatch footprints in the yard…that should do the trick.

    • Well, we’re very careful to draw the curtains to our bedroom completely, and also not to go down to the kitchen in the morning before dressing.

  8. WOW!
    Now I know why you’re doing professional photos.
    You have excellent equipment … and the patience to wait for the bird.
    I send greetings.

  9. Sometimes I take for granted the array of bird life here on the island, but now that I know our Puget Sound resident is a celebrity in the Windy City, I will show more respect. Keep your eyes open for a Western Tanager just in case there’s another wayward western flyer…it’s a beaut!

  10. Oh MY goodness! That is one heck of a serious camera. I’ve only seen one of those once before and it was at a bird sanctuary. Birders really are enthusiastic. I think I’d be more than a little intimidated with that crowd surrounding my house.

  11. I am so glad I did not publicize my golden leucistic sparrow!!! My gosh you have a crowd. My golden girl was here today too, but she is shy and would never pose for a crowd. Is it not a joy to have a bird out of place visit? I would love to see your bird.

  12. Oh, yes. You definitely need to be selling coffee and hot chocolate. Maybe some sack lunches, too! Then, in the dead of night, when no birders are watching, clip that bird’s wings so he will have to stick around! ;)

  13. It’s such a pretty little bird, I can see why they love it.

    So you are famous now….


  14. How exciting! I agree, the T-shirts, coffee, etc. … all great ideas. Reminds me of “Field of Dreams.” Seriously, though, that is wonderful to be hosting a Varied Thrush!

  15. Hello, thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!
    Wow, what a stir in your back garden! I must admit the whole thing made me smile, you watching the bird watchers through your window while they are wathing the bird….priceless!

  16. You have some interesting and beautiful birds in your garden. As we live in the countryside we do have lots of birds coming to feed, and we love to watch them. However, no one can peek into our garden, as they can in yours. So I´ll never be rich….

  17. That is so funny! Imagine if you become the protectors, experts, caretakers for this thrush family – yikes! Now you know what the celebrities have to go through being hounded by the paparazzi

  18. Not that I have anything to hide, but I am not sure I would want a bunch of photographers with telephoto lenses peering over my fence, rare bird or not.

  19. Your little Varied Thrush is a star! I see you already have pre-orders for the action figure. I can’t believe the sizes of some of those camera lens. Good Lord! My camera is pathetic in comparison. Hopefully, the little star of the show won’t get a swelled head from all this attention.

  20. These are common visitors to my yard (mostly in winter it seems) but I never tire of watching them. They love the leaf litter that I leave in our backyard.

  21. Hey, Jason, somebody just reported a SECOND Varied Thrush in your yard. Apparently a female has joined the male. True???? If yes, that is big news for birders!

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