Eastern Towhee

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Eastern Towhee

The Eastern Towhee is a large, striking, long-tailed sparrow that breeds in brushy areas across eastern North America. It is bulky, finch-like bird with a black conical bill, red eyes (white in south- eastern birds) and pale brown legs and feet.

Adults are about 6.8 – 8.2 inches in length, with 7.9 – 11 inches wingspan and weight of 32 – 52 grams.

Males are striking, having a bold sooty black above and on the breast, with warm rufous sides and white on the belly.

Females have the same pattern, but are rich brown while the males are black.

Juveniles resemble adult females, but are heavily streaked both above and below.

First winter resemble respective adults, but has browner flight feathers, and initially a drab, not red, iris.

CALL: A rising, interrogative “tow- whee?”, or sometimes “chew-wink”. Also gives a soft “hew”, and a sharp metallic “sit”

SONG: The classic song is given by males, it is a loud "drink-your-tea!" lasting about 1 second. The first note "drink" is sharp and metallic, and the final note "tea" is a musical trill. Sometimes the song will start with more than one “drink”.

Song is variable, but based on two clear notes (second lower in pitch) followed by a medium- pitched trill “tuee tuee tee-tee-tee- tee-tee”.

They eat many foods: seeds, fruits, insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and snails, as well as soft leaf and flower buds in spring. They also eat seeds and fruits.

Breeds in bushy undergrowth, thickets, woodland edges and gardens, often in dry environments and open grounds.

Winters in similar and residential areas.

Breeds from Southern Canada, Manitoba to Quebec, southward to Western Louisiana and Southern Florida.

Winters from Oklahoma, Southern Ohio, and New Jersey, southward to Central Texas and Florida.

The female builds a cup-shaped nest with twigs, leaves and barks, and lined with animal hair. It is built on a depression scratched into the soil, under a bush or brush pile.

She lays 2 - 6 grayish or creamy white eggs, occasionally greenish white, more or less speckled or spotted brown. Incubation lasts about 12 - 13 days, by female.



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