Length: 7.9-8.7 in (20-22 cm) - Weight: 1.1-1.2 oz (30-35 g)
Gray overall with a tail edged in white on the sides, the Townsend's Solitaire is a nondescript bird. Males and females look alike, and both have white eye-rings and dark wingtips accented with cream. Perching birds show buffy wing-patches. In flight, buffy wing-stripes are evident.
The Townsend's Solitaire requires a combination of steep banks for nest sites, open forests where it catches aerial prey, and tall trees to perch on. This combination is most often found in mid to high-elevation, dry, coniferous forests. Solitaires are also found in wetter areas if the terrain is rugged enough to produce a patchy, open forest.
Townsend's Solitaires may form small flocks in migration and during dispersal. Usually seen alone, defending territories in the winter as well as in the breeding season, the Townsend's Solitaire perches upright high in a tree. From this perch, the male sings to defend his territory.
The Townsend's Solitaire flies from a perch to catch flying insects, or pounces on prey on the ground. It also may hover while gleaning food from the surface of leaves and twigs.
In winter, the Townsend's Solitaire eats mostly berries. Insects make up the majority of the diet in summer.
The Townsend's Solitaire are ground-nesters, and nest in a shallow depression in a dirt bank or road cut, in a cliff crevice, under a stump or log, or amid upturned roots; basically any protected spot on the ground with overhanging shelter. The nest is a bulky, loosely made open cup of twigs, grass, pine needles, and bark strips, lined with soft grass.
Eggs & Incubation
The Townsend's Solitaire eggs vary in color from a dull white to pink, to greenish blue; marked with numerous blotches or spots. The female incubates anywhere from one to six eggs for about 11 days. Both parents feed the young, although only the female broods.
Some Townsend's Solitaires migrate attitudinally, but most migrate latitudinally . The winter range varies from year to year based on the berry supply, and can extend far south into Mexico. The seasonal shift takes place in early spring and late fall.
Last updated: May 4, 2018