Merry Christmas from Ian Adams Photography

Townsend’s Solitaire, The Holden Arboretum, Ohio (January, 2001)

Almost 20 years ago, in mid-January of 2001, I had a couple of hours to kill before a meeting at The Holden Arboretum in Lake County, Ohio. I decided to visit Holden’s holly collection, which attracts many birds in winter. As I was strolling among the holly trees, I noticed a gray bird, about the size of a bluebird, feeding on bright red winterberries, Ilex verticillata. The bird had a distinctive white eye-ring, buff wing patches and white outer tail feathers. I wasn’t familiar with this bird and headed over to Holden’s Visitor Center to consult a bird field guide. Much to my surprise and delight, the bird turned out to be a Townsend’s Solitaire, a native of  the North American western mountain states and a very rare visitor to Ohio. 

I telephoned Larry Rosche, an expert local birder and author of Birds of the Cleveland Region. The word quickly spread, and a short while later Larry and several other local birders arrived, and we made our way to the holly collection. Ten minutes elapsed, with no sign of the solitaire. Five more minutes went by, and the bird had still not appeared. Then two gray birds flew into view, a Northern Mockingbird (see photo below) in hot pursuit of the Townsend’s Solitaire. The Northern Mockingbird was a new winter record for Holden Arboretum, and the Townsend’s Solitaire was the fourth record of this bird visiting the Buckeye State. 

As its name suggests, the Townsend’s Solitaire is not a gregarious bird, but this avian visitor remained at the Arboretum for more than a month, and attracted more than 400 birders from throughout Ohio and nearby states. 

Northern Mockingbird, The Holden Arboretum, Ohio

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from Ian Adams, Fuji and Spicer. 



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