Sunday, December 31, 2017

One more Bird for 2017!

Townsend's Solitaire 

Having missed it on two previous occasions, I decided to give the Townsend's Solitaire that's been visiting a patch of junipers at the UW Arboretum one final try. After a brief hiatus, the bird reappeared a few days ago. The icy cold weather would make it challenging. The wind chill was -17 and though I dressed appropriately for the frigid conditions, my toes got pretty cold after about an hour of searching.

Longenecker Gardens

Upon arrival, I met Rob from Kentucky at the visitor center parking lot. He was in town visiting family and wanted the solitaire for a life bird. He didn't quite know where to look for it, so I told him to follow me out to the pinetum at Longenecker Gardens. I was a little concerned that he didn't have gloves and was wearing shoes instead of winter boots. We parked near the visitor center because there have been car break-ins at the parking lot on McCaffery Drive.

While waiting for the solitaire to appear, there were some other interesting birds to study. I expect Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, but it's somewhat strange seeing Yellow-rumped Warblers in this kind of weather. Like the solitaire, they're able to subsist on juniper berries and will probably survive Wisconsin's worst chills.

Just over a half an hour into our search and wait, Rob was getting cold, so I suggested he walk back to his car to warm up and took down his phone number to call him when (if) the solitaire showed up. He thought that was a good idea. More minutes passed and I was beginning to lose my resolve for the bird.

And then it happened.

It flew in from the south over by the McKay Center at 8:44AM. I got the small songbird in my bins, but didn't realize it was the solitaire until it was nearly to the pinetum. The bird perched for a few seconds, then began to consume juniper berries. After feasting for a few minutes, it returned to a high perch and appeared to be warming itself in the sunlight.

Oh yes ... I called Rob right away and he got the bird!

I've already observed this species for Wisconsin at Devil's Lake State Park, but this was the first time seeing one in Dane County. Though my county records are a little sloppy, I believe the solitaire is my 289th species for Dane.

Got the bird.
Went home.
Made coffee and breakfast.
Took a nap.

So, this really is it ... for 2017.

See you in 2018!

UW Madison Arboretum (general), Dane, Wisconsin, US
Dec 30, 2017 7:45 AM - 9:15 AM
19 species

Wild Turkey
Bald Eagle
Red-tailed Hawk
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Hairy Woodpecker
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Red-breasted Nuthatch
White-breasted Nuthatch
Brown Creeper
Townsend's Solitaire
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Northern Cardinal
House Finch
Pine Siskin
American Goldfinch

Townsend's Solitaire © 2017 Mike McDowell

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