|Species: Spotted Towhee
Common in brushy
habitats and undergrowth usually solitary foraging on ground in leaf
litter. Spotted Towhees are a large sparrow with a thick, pointed
bill, short neck, chunky body, and long, rounded tail. Identifying
features are the rufous flanks and black and white tail, white spots
on scapulars and white wing bars.
Towhees have jet-black upperparts and throat; their wings and back
are spotted bright white. The flanks are warm rufous and the belly
is white. Females have the same pattern but are warm brown where
males are black. In flight, look for white corners to the black
tail. There is some geographic variation in voice and plumage
between great plains populations and Northwestern populations.
Length: 6.7–8.3 in 17–21 cm
Wingspan: 11 in 28 cm
Weight: 1.2–1.7 oz 33–49 g
Black hood and white belly Red eye, Rufous flanks and undertail and
prominent white spots and streaks on wings and back.
Brownish hood and white belly, Rufous flanks and undertail,
prominent white spots and streaks on wings and back, black tail with
white near tip.
Brownish hood and speckled belly lacking rufous flanks, wing bars
and spot not prominent, red eye color dulled.
Eastern Towhees have a plain black back with no white spots or
wing-bars. In the narrow part of the Great Plains where these two
species overlap, people quite often find hybrids. In some older
versions of bird Identification books both Eastern and Spotted
Towhees are referred to as Rufous –sided Towhee.
Forages on ground by scratching vigorously in leaf litter for seeds
and insects Towhees tend to hop wherever they go, moving
deliberately and giving themselves plenty of time to spot food
items. They scratch at leaves with a characteristic two-footed
backward hop, then pounce on anything they’ve uncovered. During
conflicts between two towhees, you may see one bird pick up a piece
of twig, bark, or leaf and carry it around. This seems to be an
indication of submission.
Habitat: Brushy habitats, sunny clearings and brushy undergrowth in
open forests are usually where you find the Spotted Towhee. There
range from southern and Western Canada down to Mexico.
tend to be resident birds or short distant migrants.
abundant, increasing in some areas as development creates more of
their shrubby, open habitat, despite their vulnerability to
predation by cats. Forms on a few islands off California and Mexico
may be affected by habitat loss or overgrazing.
The Spotted Towhee is a year round resident of the thickets
and brushy habitat of Colony Farm. Capture rates (2010-2012;
standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours) peak
during the winter months when non-breeding birds forage
throughout the banding area.