On this sunny, warm October day, our resident solitaire has returned from the mountains. While it may not be the same individual who winters on the farm each year, it is usually a single Townsend's solitaire, mingling with robins and waxwings in our western junipers.
Having summered and bred in the mountain forests, from ponderosa parklands to timberline spruce, these streamlined thrushes head for the lower foothills and adjacent Piedmont during the colder months of the year. There they are often inconspicuous except when calling from the top of a conifer; rather possessive of their juniper berry crop, they seem to tolerate other species but chase fellow solitaires from the grove.
Our winter tenant will remain on the farm until mid April or so, oblivious of the frigid nights and heavy snowstorms. He is, of course, a welcome visitor, especially when his high-pitched call rings through the cold, dry winter air.