Towsend’s Solitaire

We watched as this Townsend’s Solitaire spent the better part of their day defending and consuming berries on a small patch of juniper trees.

According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology “During the winter, the male and female are both strongly territorial, defending patches of juniper trees against other solitaires and other birds. They feed largely or even exclusively on the juniper’s ripe, fleshy berries for the entire nonbreeding season.”

That sure appeared to be the case this day as this bird sat watch and every once in awhile darted into the tree and grabbed a berry.

One study suggested a single Solitaire would need to eat between 42,000 and 84,000 juniper berries to survive the winter. I don’t think this small patch contained enough for this bird and sharing would be out of the question.

After a quick bite they were back perched and on the lookout. It has been observed that violent fights may break out in defense of the winter territory, because owners of large, berry-rich territories survive the winter at higher rates than solitaires on small territories with few berries. This day all was calm and the owner of this territory had it all to themselves.

To find out more about these inconspicuous but fascinating birds:

5 thoughts on “Towsend’s Solitaire

  1. ….what a wonderfully complimentary narrative to go along with these wonderfully candid photographs. As one rather consumed with wanting to understand the origins of names, your description of the personality and character of these sweet birds captures their name perfectly. They are rather obsessed in defending their juniper berry-laden territory, and so become perfectly ‘solitary’. How fascinating. THANK YOU for these beautiful illustrations of a beautiful bird, along with a beautiful story.


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