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Townsend's Solitaire


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A long-tailed gray bird of the high western mountains, the Townsend's Solitaire descends in the winter to lower elevations where it feeds almost exclusively on juniper berries.

At a GlanceHelp

Both Sexes
7.9–8.7 in
20–22 cm
1.1–1.2 oz
30–35 g
Other Names
  • Solitaire de Townsend (French)
  • Clarín Norteño (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • The Townsend's Solitaire usually puts its nest on the ground, but may nest above the ground in a decaying stub or a live tree. It is especially fond of nesting along cut banks. All of the sites used are nooks or hollows beneath some sort of overhanging object that shelters the nest from above.
  • During the winter, the male and female are both strongly territorial, defending patches of juniper trees against other solitaires and other birds. They feed largely or even exclusively on the juniper's ripe, fleshy berries for the entire nonbreeding season.
  • The Townsend's Solitaire sings throughout the fall and winter to set up and hold its winter territory. Violent fights may break out in defense of the winter territory, because owners of large, berry-rich territories survive the winter at higher rates than solitaires on small territories with few berries.
  • The oldest recorded Townsend's Solitaire was at least 5 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in California.


Open Woodland

Breeds in mountainous areas, especially in open coniferous forests. Winters from coastal areas to mountain valleys where juniper is present.



Insects, spiders, some berries. In winter eats primarily fleshy female cones ("berries") of junipers.


Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–6 eggs
Egg Description
Variable in color from dull white to pink, to greenish blue; marked with numerous blotches or spots.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless and naked or with some patches of down.
Nest Description

Cup of pine needles lined with grass stems or strips of bark, placed on platform of twigs on ground or cliff under an overhang; especially often along cut banks.

Nest Placement




Flycatches for flying insects, picks insects off trees and ground.


status via IUCN

Least Concern

Townsend's Solitaire populations were stable overall between 1966 and 2014, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey. Partners in Flight estimates a global breeding population of 1 million, with 80% spending some part of the year in the U.S., 39% in Canada, and 13% in Mexico. The species rates a 12 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score. Townsend's Solitaire is not on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List.


Range Map Help

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