Saturday, September 8, 2018

Spotted Towhee - A Hefty Sparrow

Spotted Towhee

Rustling through the leaf litter below the dry scrub brush that laces the steep, Colorado foothills is where you’ll find a hefty sparrow known as the spotted towhee. Such beautiful birds, the males have a white belly, orange sides and a black head, throat and upper parts. The back and wings are flecked with white spots while the red eyes are the defining characteristic.

During the early spring, those males creep up to the top of the thicket and sing all day long while trying to attract a mate. In the breeding season they eat mostly insects but they’ll also dine on acorns, berries and seeds. They’re nest cup is built deep inside a sharp briar and usually concealed somewhere near the base of the shrub.

A close cousin, the eastern towhee, used to be considered the same bird as the spotted towhee and in the past they were called the rufous-sided towhee. During the last ice age large ice sheets split the continent down the middle, isolating the separate birds into eastern and western populations. Today, scientists classify the spotted and the eastern as two completely different species.

Rustling through leaf litter

Dry scrub brush

A hefty sparrow

A beautiful bird

Orange sides, black head and white spots

The red eye is a defining characteristic

Singing all day

A different species

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