Bird of the Week – Townsend’s Solitaire


In the winter of 2008, WC and Mrs. WC were lucky enough to have a Townsend’s Solitaire hang around their bird feeders most of the winter.

Townsend's Solitaire, Fairbanks

Townsend’s Solitaire, Fairbanks

That’s uncommon. Solitaires don’t usually visit feeders, and usually migrate south to the Lower 48 during the winter. A drab, gray bird with a strong white eye-ring and a small buffy patch on its flank, the Solitaire breeds in the mountains, near or even above tree line.

Townsend's Solitaire, Fairbanks

Townsend’s Solitaire, Fairbanks

The species isn’t well studied in its breeding range. But in spring, the male’s song is a beautiful keynote to the season. Praised as “one of the most glorious and beautiful of bird songs” (A. Saunders, quoted in Bent 1949 ), an “infinitely fine and sweet rendering of mountain music…in rippling cadences” ( Hanford 1917 ).

Well, maybe not quite that good, but still very nice.

For more bird photos, please visit Frozen Feather Images.

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