Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Townsend's Solitaire--three miles from my house!

Today (January 16) my mom and I went to the nature center near my home, Fenner Nature Center (my favorite birding spot in the whole wide world!), to see a staked-out Townsend's Solitaire.  It didn't take long to find it; no more than 5 or 6 minututes after we got there, I spotted it in a buckthorn near the field pond.  I was thrilled to be seing a rare bird at my favorite birding spot, and perhaps even more thrilled about the publicity Fenner was getting in the birding world because of that very bird.  It was teed up perfectly and not at all shy, letting me get within 10 feet of it to take some photographs.

It was so cute!  About the size of a bluebird, its pale eyering, long tail, and habit of constantly fluttering its wings (below) were all so endearing.

The pale eye ring
The very long tail
Fluttering the wings

It was also really cool to watch the bird's behavior.  I thought that the behavior of hovering was restricted to hummingbirds, kingfishers, kestrels, and a few other select raptors.  No, it turns out, thrushes can hover too.  Every time the solitaire felt like having a berry, it would take off from its perch and hover in place under a branch laden with berries, grabbing on to a berry with its bill and twisting its head in order to get the berry loose. 

Hovering in place, showing the distitctive wing markings
Snatching the berry
Twisting the head to get the berry

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