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Rutland County Audubon's Annual Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December
27, was the occasion for the 'discovery' of the Townsend's solitaire in West
Rutland, a first Vermont record.  I want to recognize the field team that was
fortunate enough to be part of the historic occasion, they are Karen Barnouw
(Rutland), Ed Hack (Bethel), Dick Hetherington (Poultney), Roy Pilcher (Proctor),
and Anne Riker (Poultney).
The team had stopped at the north end of Pleasant Street in West Rutland to
make a brief reconnaissance of the area where a pair of blue jays were
objecting noisily from the depths of a cedar to some intruder, and where bluebirds in
the past had been recorded.  (The area supports quite a prolific crop of rose
hips and barberries, a welcome winter food source for many species of birds.)
Two bluebirds were spotted immediately and accompanying them a bird that had
several significant field marks but was off our collective radar screens,
except Ed's, who fortuitously had traveled west during the fall and had had the
good fortune to record a Townsend's solitaire.  As we put our collective
observations together and with Peterson's, Field Guide to Eastern Birds, to hand, we
were convinced of the correctness of the determination.  However, being a
Christmas count and yet early in the day, we had to hurry on!
Incidentally, our presence flushed an owl from the cedar, in all probability
a barred owl, the initial irritation that stimulated the blue jays to object
so loudly.
We are happy for our good fortune and for all the birders who have
subsequently seen and/or photographed the solitaire and for the field 'fellowship' that
has resulted.

For somegood pictures check out:
http://www.rutlandcountyaudubon.org/birdboard/Townsends_Solitaire/



Roy Pilcher
Proctor, Vermont.

Speaking the Same Language