Townsend’s Solitaire

They’re not juniper berries, but this medium-sized grey bird–which is rarely seen here in BC (so rare, as a matter of fact, that my sighting of it actually required filing late last year as a rare bird alert in BC (for the Vancouver Area and Fraser Valley region)–clearly isn’t finicky when it comes to winter fruits. This Townsend’s Solitaire (another bird for my life list) materialized on our front lawn pyracantha bush on December 9, 2015, but it required two more visits more a week later to finally get proof of this handsome thrush. Photographed on December 18, 2015.

Townsend's Solitaireevery bird who visits us just *has* to take a turn posing on the pyracantha bush
f/7.1, 1/400, 150-500mm telephoto lens, 500mm, ISO 1000

“Charlie” lives up to his reputation of being a solitary bird. I have not seen any others of his kind (that white eyering is a real attention-grabber) in the area, and eBird sightings typically only show 1 or 2. He has not been defending these pommes (aggressively or otherwise), but the six other American Robins with him were! I had to shoot him rather surreptitiously, as my previous attempts were unsuccessful. Of course, he was dining with a number of other birds this time, which probably distracted him.



31 thoughts on “Townsend’s Solitaire

    • Noelle,

      thank you! it’s a definite contender for Christmas card next year!

      from its profile, the Townsend’s Solitaire feeds almost exclusively on juniper berries in the winter — but with just the pyracantha and cotoneaster berries in our yard (and the general neighbourhood), it had to “make do” with the pyracantha. we’ve never found any takers for the holly berries, though. 🙂



  1. Great catch!! Like Myr, I’ve seen my first Townsend’s Solitaire here in Canmore (near Banff). It was hanging out in our juniper bush, and hunkered down because of the cold. I was able to get quite close, which was thrilling. They say that they will over winter here in the cold if the berry crop is good. Must be a stellar year for juniper and other berries!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • thank you, Linda! I’ve read that Townsend’s will fight beak and claw for juniper berries in the fall and winter because that’s what they will need to survive on in the lean months.

      I was in Canmore many many years ago, and it was especially memorable because it was raining cats and dogs when I arrived! 🙂

      I wasn’t into birding at that point, and the most interesting thing I encountered was a full grown moose (with an enormous rack of antlers) nibbling on a homeowner’s bush (as the homeowner was videotaping him just a few feet away) as I was driving out of Banff! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love these birds. They frequent our area in the fall and early winter. They have a beautiful robin like song after all the other birds have stopped singing. They are always a joy for me. Thank you for this beautiful picture of one. Nicely caught.

    Liked by 1 person

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