Friday, November 17, 2006

Townsend's Solitaire

On this day in 1980, a Townsend's Solitaire was found at Sunrise Mountain in Sussex County by C. Wood and J. Climpson. The bird "was enjoyed by many as it fed on mountain ash berries through the period" (Paxton et al. 1981). This bird stayed until 14 December 1980. Interestingly, NJ's ninth record of Varied Thrush, another western thrush, arrived a few days earlier on 15 November in Allamuchy State Park in Warren County.

In another odd coincidence, NJ's third record of the solitaire was also at Sunrise Mountain on 15 November 1987. If these records had occurred in consecutive years, it would be tempting to think that they might refer to the same bird, but seven years apart is another matter. In total, NJ has five records of this thrush; the first three were from the northern part of the state, but the two most recent (including the popular long-staying bird in Heislerville, Cumberland County) have been from the coastal plain. The Heislerville bird was found on 27 December 1998 and proceeded to overwinter until 18 April 1999.

Other Northeastern states show a similar pattern of occurrence for Townsend's Solitaire; a mere scattering of records, almost all in the fall.

Paxton, Robert O., William J. Boyle, Jr., & David A. Cutler. 1981. The Autumn Migration, Hudson-Delaware Region. American Birds 35:162-166.

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