Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Townsend's Solitaire

On Tuesday, Erika and I read on the MOU listserv that a Townsend's Solitaire was discovered at the Carpenter Nature Center in Washington Co., Minnesota, along the St. Croix River just north of its confluence with the Mississippi. This thrush's range is normally in the mountains of western North America. Often their fall migration only involves moving to lower elevations in the winter. Other individuals may be sedentary. Canadian birds tend to migrate further than more southern ones. Nevertheless, some birds regularly winter across the dakotas and other plains states, where they often prefer cedar trees. Since the 1970s, Townsend's Solitaires have been seen in increasing numbers in Minnesota. The further east you travel, the more infrequent Solitaires become. The normal eastern limit of their wintering range is unclear (Bowen 1997).

Because these solitaires maintain winter territories, they are often relatively easy to see. They often perch high in cedars and give beautiful warbling songs (link with permission of Thayer Birding Software). These two photographs are of the same individual bird. The image below appears much browner than the gray one above, which looks much more typical. This variability, due to the soft December sunlight, is one reason identifying birds from photographs can sometimes be tricky.

1 comment:

  1. Going to look for this little guy this weekend. Hopefully he doesn't decide before then that the weather in Florida is better than here.

    Enjoy your blog very much. Great pics and you provide lots of good info.

    Brian (birddude66)

    ReplyDelete