25 January 2021

Posts Tagged ‘red-tailed hawk’

Whispering Solitaire

Thursday, 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


Saturday, January 9th, 2021
Cassin’s Finches, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 09 January 2021.
Cassin’s Finches.
House Finch in the yard, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 09 January 2021.
House Finch in the yard.

The skies during this morning’s hike were mostly overcast at first, then clearing came and the sun emerged, then more clouds came. Birds were fickle, too—a few chickadees and a titmouse, a couple corvids, then a big batch more chickadees and some towhees.

Most interesting were finches. I heard house finches, then spied a pair of finches that sounded different but were too far away to ID. “Wonder if those are Cassin’s Finches,” I thought at the time.

Later, after downloading photos, I could confirm.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 9:09 a.m. (MST), I hiked several hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Black-capped Chickadee
2. Juniper Titmouse
3. Black-billed Magpie**
4. Spotted Towhee**
5. House Finch* (v)
6. Cassin’s Finch*
7. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay*
8. Rock Pigeon
9. Northern Flicker (v)
10. Red-tailed Hawk


Red Squirrel

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

Hawk and Crow

Tuesday, January 5th, 2021
American Crow, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 05 January 2021.
American Crow.

Snowed a tiny bit overnight, and the morning light came into an overcast sky. Warmish, freezing or above. We met no one on our hike, dog and me.

Red-tailed Hawk, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 05 January 2021.
Red-tailed Hawk.

But we did encounter a nice assortment of birds—although I suppose “encountered” is the wrong word, considering a couple of species visible only through my binocs and maximum zoom. One of those was the Red-tailed Hawk that perches on the cell tower across the highway down by McDonald’s. I check for it from the bluff each day.

Did my annual fortnightly grocery shop afterward, where I encountered another supermarket crow. This bird also sat cawing atop a parking lot light. Perhaps it was the same bird as the last crow I saw. (So strange to live where there are so few crows.)

The hawk—which still perched atop the tower when we headed down—had gone by the time of our return. But later, from the deck, I spied a red-tail on a tall utility pole perhaps a quarter mile away. Same bird I bet.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 9:02 a.m. (MST), I hiked several hundred feet up a mountain.

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


12. European Starling
13. American Crow

(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

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