My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

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A Townsend's Solitaire

Published December 01, 2014
Tags: Life List Happenings, Townsend's Solitaire

Occasionally, a Townsend's Solitaire winds up in the Northeast. This small thrush lives in the western half of the United States and Canada, wintering from southern California and southward.  The last time one was seen anywhere in the Western to Central New York areas, I wasn't traveling to see life birds and I missed a great chance for one that year.  A couple of days ago, when a birder from Erieville, NY reported one that he and his wife were seeing one on their property, Celeste and I decided to make a run for it, not wishing to miss another opportunity.

Only a few minutes after we arrived, the bird flew in landing near the top of a bare tree.  We had nice looks before it took off to another spot on the property, where it stayed for quite awhile. It left and returned at least a couple of times during our visit, giving closer looks a time or two. It even vocalized several times, giving us the "complete package".

The Townsend's Solitaire was named after the ornithologist, John Kirk Townsend and is the only solitaire that is native to the US.  This species is very territorial and both the male and the female will defend patches of juniper trees against others of their kind during the winter.  They are mostly gray with a strong, white eyering and buffy patches on their wings. Their forked tail is white underneath and gleams nicely in flight as it changes direction in a rather irregular pattern.  We had the opportunity to witness this as it flew several times during our stay.

The birders that the Townsend's Solitaire chose to visit were very helpful and eager to have others share their rarity.  We really enjoyed our time with them and we were very thankful for their generosity and hospitality!  Thank you, Brian and Connie!  Hopefully, the bird will stay awhile, but, as Brian said, it's best the bird moved on to where s/he belongs.
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Townsend's Solitaire - a gray bird on a gray day didn't make for very good photos!
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Townsend's Solitaire
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Townsend's Solitaire
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Townsend's Solitaire
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Townsend's Solitaire
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Townsend's Solitaire