Mountain Bluebird,Sialia currucoides . (Plate 11.2) Male length 6 3/5 in (16.75 cm), female length 6 1/2 in (16.5 cm); male weight 1 oz (28.7 g), female weight 1 oz (28.8 g). Common summer resident in the White-Inyo Range, from 7,200 to 10,500 ft (2,200 to 3,200 m).
This species lives in exposed places: meadows, sagebrush flats, sparsely vegetated slopes, and open coniferous forest. There they perch on bush tops, prominent rocks, fences, or dead treetops. Insects are taken from either the air, the ground, or the foliage and woody parts of trees and shrubs. The Mountain Bluebird commonly hovers buoyantly before securing its prey. Nests are mostly placed in cavities in dead conifers or aspens. In late summer, postbreeding family groups forage widely over open country. The Mountain Bluebird winters in flocks at lower elevations, either in agricultural regions in valleys, in the desert, or on mountain slopes grown to juniper, the berries of which are often a staple food during that season. References: Power (1966), Power (1980).
Townsend's Solitaire , Myadestes townsendi . (Fig. 11.38) Male length 7 9/10 in (20 cm), female length 8 1/10 in (20.5 cm); male weight 1 1/8 oz (31.9 g), female weight 1 1/4 oz (35.6 g). Rare summer resident in the White-Inyo Range, between 9,300 and 10,500 ft (2,840 and 3,200 m) elevation. The solitaire also occurs in winter on the lower slopes of these ranges, although these birds are not necessarily from the local summering population.
As a nesting species, solitaires occur only in the best stands of subalpine Limber and Bristlecone Pine forest. Males sing a far-reaching, jumbled series of warbles from spires in the treetops. A more commonly heard vocalization, however, is the brief, haunting whistle that simulates a creaky hinge. Townsend's Solitaires commonly take shady perches near the trunk, below the main foliage canopy of pines. They obtain insects in summer, occasionally by flycatching; winter birds commonly feed on juniper berries. Nests are built in protected crevices in banks, stumps, and exposed tree roots. Reference: Salomonson and Balda (1977).
Hermit Thrush,Catharus guttatus . (Plate 11.4) Male length 6 3/4 in (17.25 cm), female length 6 1/4 in (16 cm); male weight 1 oz (28.5 g), female weight 1 oz (28.8 g). Common summer resident in the White-Inyo Range; recorded from 7,700 to 10,500 ft (2,350 to 3,200 m).
This species lives in the shadiest habitats of the White-Inyo Range: aspen woodland, willow thickets, and coniferous forest of Limber, Bristlecone and Lodgepole pines. Dense groves of Mountain Mahogany, especially on northeast slopes or in
ravines, are also suitable; these provide good shade and a ground layer of plant debris in which the thrushes forage. In the morning and again at dusk, males deliver their enchanting, fluty song from prominent perches. The environment occupied by the Hermit Thrush in these mountains seems more open and arid than places where the species occurs in the Sierra Nevada. References: Dilger (1956), Morse (1971).
American Robin,Turdus migratorius . (Fig. 11.39) Male length 9 1/8 in (23.25 cm), female length 9 1/4 in (23.5 cm); male weight 2 5/8 oz (74 g), female weight 2 3/4 oz (78 g). Common summer resident in the White Mountains, from 6,750 to 10,500 ft (2,060 to 3,200 m). Scarce in the Inyo Mountains; there is one June record from Waucoba Canyon, at 7,200 ft (2,200 m).
In the White Mountains region, this familiar species breeds in moist canyon bottoms where meadows and dense thickets of willow, rose, and birch prevail. Such habitats provide soft, open ground for foraging, where worms and other ground invertebrates may be taken. Mud for nest construction is also available in these places. The American Robin builds its nest in many kinds of trees situated near wet areas. Typically, the cup-shaped nest is placed on a branch or in a fork at moderate heights. Males begin to sing on their breeding territories in early spring. They sing most vigorously at dawn and during the early morning hours, and their caroling
song can often be heard continuously along streamcourses throughout the summer. References: Howell (1942), James and Shugart (1974), Shedd (1982).