Bird of the Week

3
Photo courtesy Ben Bailey

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Townsend’s solitaire.
Maybe you’ve noticed a slender gray bird perched atop a juniper or ponderosa. With a small head, short beak and long, graceful tail, it sports a white ring around its eye. It might be peeping out a single-note call or broadcasting a long, melodious song. It’s probably a Townsend’s solitaire perched in the perfect location to survey its winter territory.
Solitaires live throughout the mountain west year-round. During fall, they move to lower elevations to feast on juniper and other berries. They may flutter briefly to pluck berries or swoop to the ground to pick them up.
Both the identical looking male and female birds are dedicated to defending their respective spaces. They chase away other birds and even attack their own reflections, perceived competitors, in windows and mirrors.
As winter ends, solitaires begin to move to higher territory. They can be found throughout pine, fir and spruce forests up to 11,500 feet, where their diet switches to insects and spiders.
To learn more about birds, visit the website of one of Audubon’s partners in the Year of the Bird project, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, at www.allaboutbirds.org.