Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Spotted Towhee

Spotting a Spotted Towhee is not that easy. They tend to hide in the underbrush and reveal only for good reason...food mainly.

The Spotted Towhee is a bird of the western United States...quite common, but secretive.

Males and females look alike, although the male is more boldly spotted. The spotted pattern is thought to be an adaptation evolved to mimic the sun's dappled reaches of the underbrush.

This male Spotted Towhee searched the patches of ground exposed by the retreating snow.

Seeds and berries make up his diet in winter...summer includes insects and invertebrates.

(Click any picture to enlarge)

Perched proudly on a red twig dogwood, this male Spotted Towhee is at home on Mt. Lemmon, Arizona.

It is noonday at my brother Kenn's cabin...8000 feet.  As snow melts reluctantly at this altitude, looking for a mate in early February may be futile, but he is in good form already.

In spring the males rise to sing in the tree tops in hopes of attracting a mate. He sings long and loud during the pairing process.

If successful, he'll return to the security of the thicket to raise a family.

The Spotted Towhee is a striking specimen of a sparrow. You may never get to see one east of the Mississippi River...rather unfortunate. So, for people living in the eastern half of the United States, please accept my opinion that this is one beautiful bird.


Credits: Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds
The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Allen Sibley