It may seem a little geeky to say this, but a visit to Gardner Christmas week by a Townsend's solitaire
was a lot more exciting than opening your presents and getting a new iPad, a slot car set (I've been waiting 56 years) or a box of chocolate covered cherries.
Forest dwelling birds such as Townsend's solitaire
(Myadestes townsendi) and mountain chickadee (Parus gambeli) are replacing grassland obligate species such as sage grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus) and western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) in larger stands.
The Townsend's solitaire
is a gray bird with a white ring around its eye, and is named after ornithologist John Kirk Townsend, who traveled through the Rocky Mountains in 1833 and was first to observe and describe the bird for science.
CUTLINE: (PHOTO) This photo of the Townsend's solitaire
was taken Friday in Gardner.
Additional Cook treasures included black-belling whistling duck, cinnamon teal, cattle egret, snowy owl, Townsend's solitaire
, western tanager, prairie warbler and Harris's sparrow.
By mid century, the park's climate is projected to improve for birds that live in dry forests at mid elevation, like the western tanager, pygmy nuthatch, and red-naped sapsucker, and worsen for birds in cooler, wetter, high-elevation forests, like the American three-toed woodpecker, pine grosbeak, and Townsend's solitaire
. It is recommended that park managers track bird populations and preserve rarer forests types where possible.
In the first phase of what seems to be diplochory in action, the trees' chunky berries, with seeds inside, are stolen by birds, mainly robins and Townsend's solitaires
. The birds may carry the berries to a place where they can safely eat them.
Trails lead into the juniper-filled canyon where Townsend's solitaires