Intermission: Townsend’s Solitaire Comes Calling

January 11, 2023

Who doesn’t love birds? Watching them, listening to them, photographing them, and in my case drawing them. And it’s especially exciting when a new visitor comes calling. When the bird is the first I’ve ever sighted, automatically becoming a new addition to my life list!

There I was, working away on one of my Sonoran Desert posts, when I glanced up from my sketchbook and noticed an unfamiliar bird standing tall under our big juniper tree. Not one of the hundreds of dark-eyed juncos that feast all winter below our feeders. Definitely larger than the comical juniper titmice and noisy mountain chickadees that pop in and out conducting their continual grab-a-seed-and-dash maneuvers. Hmmmmm ….. a bit larger than our resident canyon and spotted towhees, but slimmer than the Woodhouse’s scrub jay. An American robin? A western bluebird? Certainly similar, but not quite; certainly a member of the thrush family?

Turned out he was one of the thrush species …. not the robin or bluebird, but the beautifully sleek Townsend’s Solitaire. For a brief moment he seemed to be evaluating the quality of juniper berries lying beneath the tree. Not wanting to spook him, I watched in muted excitement, then dared to make a move for my camera. He stayed just long enough to bend over for a bird’s-eye look, promptly dismissing our berry crop, and off he flew. Somehow, while juggling my field guide, binoculars and camera, I managed to snap a photo to confirm my sighting with iNaturalist. Confirmed! How cool was that!

It was a great day!

I’ve watched every day since to see if this one or more Townsend’s Solitaires drop by. No luck yet, but now I know they’re around. Maybe I’ll catch them this Spring breeding, nesting, but more likely singing and calling from the treetops while defending their territory full of delicious juniper berries!

What’s nature displaying in your world right now?


5 Comments

  1. Made Byfay says:

    What a beautiful little bird! And how nice of him to stay around long enough for you to capture a picture. I cm curious what paper you used – always looking for paper options. And I adore the kitty signature! 😍

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    1. Hi Fay! Thanks so much for the comments. I agree …. a very dashing bird; one which I’ll be watching for again and again. I too look for paper options. I drew the solitaire on a mixed media, heavyweight (feels like 98lb but couldn’t find the info on its label) paper by UCreate. Found it in a hard cover book at Walmart (very inexpensive), and bought it because I’ve used UCreate before and because when opened it lies flat, I decided to try. It’s pretty nice if you’re using a dryish brush. Also seems to layer watercolor well. (I work with watercolor pencil and a waterbrush).
      My kitty, Flambé, is a whole other story. On my webpage she has her own “About” info following mine. What began as my chop, Kat took on her own personality and mischief making, and always appears somewhere in my art. Thanks for noticing! I’ll let her know! Ha!

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  2. What a wonderful sighting — and wow, 42,000-84,000 juniper berries every winter! We have been hearing the Great Horned Owls at night, but alas, we never get a glimpse of them! And, we love going to a particular local lake to see the Wood Ducks that hang out there in the winter — their spectacular coloring is magical! So much to enjoy, especially when the trees are bare. Happy bird watching, hope the Townsend’s stops by again for you!

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    1. Your comments make me smile! The Great Horned Owl can be notoriously elusive, despite their “here I am” call. One night, my sis-in-law and I sat for an hour on a big meadow rock and called GHOs. Thought we would get skunked, but then ….. sensing more than hearing ….. one of them swooped in over our heads, loose enough to ruffle our hair! Whoa! Wow! Amazing and scary all at once! We retreated lickedly split to cover, but never forgot that encounter! Fingers crossed for your backyard sighting.
      I also love Wood Ducks! Wetlands fowl disguised in clown suits! I’ll save my story for another day.
      The Townsend’s Solitaire isn’t nearly as colorful, but a thoroughly exhilarating sighting! Thanks for commenting Karen! We must chat soon!

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      1. Wow, what an incredible experience, an owl fly by! That, I would love to experience, I guess you just don’t hear them coming until they are right there whisking by!

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