BIRD OF THE WEEK / WEEK 18: April 30, 2018

© Liron Gertsman

Bird

Spotted Towhee

Species Name

Pipilo maculatus

Appearance

17-23 cm length | 20-30 cm wingspan | 32-49 gm weight

A large, stocky New World sparrow with a long, fan-shaped tail and a short, thick bill.

Black on top with bright rufous sides and white below. The wings are spotted and barred with white. They have red eyes, a dark bill and pinkish legs. The female is brown-grey above as opposed to black. The Eastern Towhee looks the same except that it does not have white spots on its wings.

Habitat / Behaviour

Omnivore | Woodland, scrubland | Migratory

They inhabit the thickets, chaparral and areas of low vegetation in and around wooded areas. They are also a frequent visitor to backyard bird feeders.

The spotted towhees mostly forage on the ground but also glean within the branches and foliage of low vegetation. On the ground, they do a characteristic backwards hop-scratch, noisily rustling through dry leaves. They eat a variety of plant and animal matter including grain, seeds, grasses, fruit, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, snails and insects. Typical insect prey are beetles, grasshoppers, crickets, ants, wasps, bees, moths and caterpillars.

The common name “”towhee”” is an onomatopoeic reference to one of the bird’s calls.

Breeding

Monogamous | 3-5 Creamy whitish eggs with rufous spots | 2-3 broods

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