25 January 2021

Whispering Solitaire

January 21st, 2021
Townsend’s Solitaire, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 21 January 2021.
Townsend’s Solitaire.

I can’t adequately describe the uplifting sensation of knowing the source of a very slight sound. I imagine it’s what levitation must feel like.

This morning while dog and I were ascending the steep, slippery trail in leafy Coyote Canyon, I heard the sound. So faint, but it made me stop stock still. A long warbling whistle, the pitch rising and falling abruptly, barely audible. But it made me suck in a little gasp. Because I knew at once what I hearing.

I knew at once because I’d heard it before, not that long ago, not far from that very section of trail: the “whisper” of a Townsend’s Solitaire.

I say “whisper,” but the song was clear—just exceedingly soft and delicate. You’d almost thing the bird that made the sound was perched at least a hundred feet away. But from experience, I knew better.

So right away I scanned the tops of nearby trees in the direction of the sound, and within a second or two I spied its source of it, a singing solitaire.

I’ve heard the same song at high volume volume, last spring a couple thousand feet up the mountainside: two male solitaires, each apparently working to outsing the other. And a sweet rollicking, beautiful song it was.

Today’s was like a ghost of that spring song, and I couldn’t help (again) but wonder why. Was the bird whispering to a nearby mate? Warming of the presence of a dog and human? Was the solitaire simply singing to itself, as I sometimes whistle a little tune quietly without even thinking?

I’ll likely never know the reason, but the magical thing to me is simply knowing where to look when I hear that sound.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 9 a.m. (MST), I hiked several hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay*
2. Black-capped Chickadee
3. House Finch** (v)
4. Spotted Towhee
5. Rock Pigeon*
6. Red-tailed Hawk
7. Black-billed Magpie* (v)
8. Dark-eyed Junco
9. Townsend’s Solitaire
10. Northern Flicker
11. Song Sparrow (v)


12. European Starling
13. House Sparrow (v)
14. American Crow
15. Eurasian Collared Dove


Mountain Cottontail

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere

Warm Winter

January 20th, 2021
Juniper Titmouse, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 20 January 2021.
Juniper Titmouse.

This winter’s been warm here so far. That’s what I gather at least—it being only my second winter in Salt Lake City—and I know from observation that we’ve seen very little snow and maybe only one or two overnights with lows in the teens (F).

This morning’s temperature had hit the mid-20s when dog and I started up the trail. A cloudless sky for the second straight day. Mostly the usual bird suspects (the funnest being a pair of Juniper Titmice). On our return, when the sun topped the ridge, the temperature rose to the point that my scarf made my neck to warm—and got up into the 40s by mid-afternoon.

However, this historic Inauguration Day, our brand new President took the first steps toward treating anthropogenic climate change seriously again. Which is good news for our survival on this tilted planet of ours.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 9 a.m. (MST), I hiked several hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay
2. House Finch* (v)
3. Black-billed Magpie*
4. Dark-eyed Junco
5. Rock Pigeon*
6. Black-capped Chickadee (v)
7. Spotted Towhee
8. Pine Siskin (v)
9. Juniper Titmouse
10. European Starling*


11. American Robin

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere


January 19th, 2021
Bobcat tracks, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 19 January 2021.
Bobcat tracks.
Bobcat tracks, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 19 January 2021.
Detail of bobcat tracks.

Unexpected (by me) snow later yesterday left about a powdery coating of about an inch on everything this morning. On which all kinds of critters had left their tracks.

Not many birds today, but a whole mess of animal tracks. Cottontails (as usual), voles (or mice), even a deer or two—plus, what I’m pretty sure was the trail of a bobcat. First I noticed the lack of claw marks. Then (with some relief) I saw their smallish size. Then the fact that the animal had a diagonal gait (back feet land atop the front foot tracks), and its front paws were a bit larger than the back.

I could be wrong—still kind of new at this—but, as a birder, I do love a good puzzle of observation.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 9:29 a.m. (MST), I hiked several hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay (v)
2. Black-billed Magpie*
3. Spotted Towhee
4. Dark-eyed Junco**
5. Rock Pigeon*
6. House Finch* (v)
7. Northern Flicker*
8. Sharp-shinned Hawk


12. Black-capped Chickadee
11. Song Sparrow


Red Squirrel (v)

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere
**Voice only elsewhere

Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson

3IP Logo
©1997–2021 by 3IP