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Birds and Wildlife

Rufous-sided Towhee/Spotted Towhee
Polly Adcock
March 2nd 2020

Cornell said there are six kinds of Towhees across NA and all with different field marks. I have always called the bird that is colored like a Robin, but smaller, a Rufous-sided Towhee. That is the Eastern Towhee but our Pacific Northwestern Towhee is called the Spotted Towhee because of the WHITE SPOTS on its back.

These are my favorite birds to watch because they remind me of miniature chickens, hopping forward and scratching back to find their food which consists of insects like caterpillars, ants, wood-borers, snails, spiders as well as seeds and berries.

When I moved to my property, I usually had one or two show up in the Winter at the feeder and disappear in Summer, but now they stay year-round. Mrs. Pearl, my Oregon friend, referred to them as wood birds. They do like the forest edge, thickets, and shrubbery.

These birds are monogamous and the female will make a cup of grass and twigs CONCEALED on the ground. One Summer I found two different nests like this on the ground!! One was hidden among some of that awful orange Crocosmia which I was ripping out and the other was beside the road!! Perhaps that is why they are called GROUND Robins.

Both parents feed the young and may have two broods per year. In the Audubon book I had to look up Finch and Sparrow because they belong to that family.

They make a sound like chewink or zeeeeeee (buzzy trill), louise, and Readers Digest said the southern group has a drawl of chip, chup, chup zeeeeeee.

This Winter my husband and I have been amused by two brave Towhees who cautiously hop from the Hydrangea across the sidewalk to steal a crumpet from Shadow Cat's bowl and then scurry back under the Hydrangea all the while our “retired exterminator” watches or sleeps.