Leonard always reminds me that you cannot go out to find wildlife, it must come to you. What he means is that if I go out looking for something specific, I probably will not find it. I must to be ready to accept whatever I happen to come across. He is right, of course.
When I went out three days in a row to specifically take pictures of Townsend’s solitaires – to a place I always find them – none were around. Yesterday I was in the barnyard, somewhere we never see solitaires. Townsend’s solitaires were the last thing on my mind. Guess what flew onto the ridge pole of the barn! I did not have my camera and needed to go back to the house for it. Thankfully solitaires sit still for long periods of time on the highest available perch.
This bird sat on the ridge pole for several minutes. Then it flew down to the livestock watering trough and had a long drink before heading back to the top of the barn. Leonard and I believe that since we have had no precipitation for nearly two months, birds are venturing into the barnyard for much-needed water. Here are the promised Townsend’s solitaire pictures from my unexpected photo-op.
In these pictures it is easy to see the identifying characteristics of the Townsend’s solitaire, the only solitaire in North America north of Mexico. This completely gray bird, whose undersides can be paler than its back, has a small black bill and short black legs. The eye is surrounded by a thin, sharp eye ring. The outer feathers of the long tail are white and there are buffy fringes on the wings.
John Kirk Townsend was an American ornithologist and naturalist who in 1833 traveled across the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean with an expedition led by Nathaniel Jarvis Weyth. Townsend discovered and described several new birds and mammals, several of which were named after him.