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Townsend's Solitaire

Silhouette ThrushesThrushes
Townsend's SolitaireMyadestes townsendi
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Turdidae

Basic Description

The Townsend’s Solitaire is an elegant, wide-eyed songbird of western-mountain forests. Their drab gray plumage gets a lift from subtly beautiful buffy wing patches and a white eyering. Though they're thrushes, they perch upright atop trees and shrubs to advertise their territories all year long, and can easily be mistaken for flycatchers. Their sweet jumbling song gives them away and enlivens their evergreen forest and juniper woodland homes. In winter they switch from eating primarily insects to eating fruit, particularly juniper berries.

More ID Info
image of range map for Townsend's Solitaire
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Townsend’s Solitaires are fairly inconspicuous birds that often sit motionless, but their sweet jumbling song and tendency to sing throughout the year, is often the best way to track them down. During the breeding season you might also stumble across a nesting pair by walking along an old Forest Service road with steeply cut banks. Be on the lookout for a gray bird that quickly darts out of the bank as you walk by (and if you do flush a bird, don't stick around too long and allow the bird to return to its nest). Perhaps the easiest time to see them is during winter, when these birds are common around junipers loaded with berries. Once you find a patch listen for their persistent ringing call and start scanning the tree tops.

Other Names

  • Solitario Norteño (Spanish)
  • Solitaire de Townsend (French)

Backyard Tips

If you live in an area of the West where juniper trees grow, try adding a couple to your yard to entice a Townsend Solitaire to visit during the winter. For more about bird friendly winter gardens, check out this article from K-12 Education.

  • Cool Facts