Boreal Birds
300+ species, billions of birds rely on Canada's boreal forest as critical breeding grounds
© Jonathon Jongsma/Wikimedia Commons (CC 3.0)

Townsend's Solitaire

Townsend's Solitaire
Myadestes townsendi
Perching Birds | Family: Thrushes, Turdidae

An estimated 17% of the species' North American population breeds within the Boreal Forest.

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Overview

This is the northernmost of a number of mountain-forest thrushes (the solitaires) of the New World and the only species north of Mexico. Like other thrushes, it forages on the ground for berries and insects; in winter it descends to lower elevations and may even occur in desert oases.

Description

8-9 1/2" (20-24 cm). A slender bird, resembling a mockingbird. Gray overall, unstreaked, slightly darker above, with thin white eye ring and white outer tail feathers; pale rusty wing patch. Juveniles are mottled gray and white. Sits upright, usually high on a branch.

Voice

Song made up of loud, melodious, fluty rising and falling phrases. Call is a squeaky eeek.

Nesting

3 or 4 grayish-white eggs, with light brown spots concentrated at the large end, in a large, loosely built nest of weeds, lined with rootlets, placed on the ground, in a hole, among roots, in a road cut, in an old mine shaft, or among rocks on talus slopes.

Habitat

Open coniferous forests, edges, or burns with single standing trees in the mountains.

Range/Migration

Breeds from central Alaska, western Alberta, and Black Hills of South Dakota south to central California and central New Mexico. Winters throughout western United States north to British Columbia and Black Hills.