I was 11 years old, a wildly avid birder, eager to find everything I could. On a cold December morning, I walked into a grove of evergreens in a Kansas park a few miles from my parents’ house. Search as I might, I could find only a single bird in that grove, alone but beautiful: a Townsend’s Solitaire.
The name “solitaire” is singularly appropriate. While other species of thrush often form flocks (and the flocks of robins or bluebirds may be very large), solitaires seldom gather in groups of any kind. In fact, their aggressively solitary nature is noticeable at all seasons, and it’s one of the best-studied aspects of their behavior.