Common Name

Scientific Name

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Photo by Rick Fridell
Photo Copyright Rick Fridell

Townsend's solitaire, Myadestes townsendi, occurs in western North America, where it ranges from Alaska and western Canada to northern Mexico. In Utah, this species is a moderately common permanent resident throughout the state in proper habitat. Typical breeding habitat of Townsend's solitaire is montane coniferous forest, but other forest types at middle to high elevations are frequently used. This species shows altitudinal migration, moving to lower elevations and a wider variety of habitats during winter. Terrestrial arthropods, mostly insects and spiders, and earthworms are the main foods consumed by Townsend's solitaire during the breeding season, whereas berries are consumed during other seasons.

The nest is typically in a sheltered situation on the ground, usually a cut bank (such as along a road cut) or sometimes among tree roots, but is rarely constructed as much as ten feet above the ground in a stump or living tree. The female alone incubates the three to five (usually four) eggs for eleven to thirteen days. Both parents feed the young, which fledge after ten to fifteen days.

This species was named by John James Audubon in honor of nineteenth century ornithologist John K. Townsend, its discoverer, who was well known for his work on birds in western North America.


  • Bowen, R. V. 1997. Townsend’s solitaire. Birds of North America 269: 1–28.

  • Ehrlich, P. R., D. S. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook[:] a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon & Schuster, New York. xxx + 785 pp.