Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rufous-sided Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus

Rufous-sided Towhee Pipilo erythrophthalmus

The western form of the Rufous-sided Towhee was formerly thought to be a distinct species; it was known as the Spotted Towhee for the bright white spots on its upper wings and back. Towhees kick both feet backward simultaneously, raking through the leaf litter to search for insects and seeds. This noisy activity frequently calls attention to the little bird's presence in the undergrowth.

Identification Western male has black head, breast, and back; wings black with white spots; flanks and sides rufous; central belly white. Female similar, with slightly paler head, breast, and upperparts. Immature brownish; head, nape, and back washed with rusty tones.

Voice Song a chup-chup-zeee or chew hee?

Habitat Woodlands, forest edges, gardens, and parks with low shrubby growth; avoids dense forests and treeless plains.

Range Breeds from S. British Columbia to Maine, south to Mexico and Florida; absent from much of Great Plains. Winters in southern two-thirds of United States.

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