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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Eastern Towhee

Pipilo erythrophthalmus 
 Attending an ornithology class at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in North Carolina, I learned the name of this bird as a Rufus-sided towhee.  Since that time there has been some taxonomic debate.
The species has since been found to be actually two separate species, the Spotted towhee (Pipilo maculatus) and the one in my photos, the Eastern towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus).  The domain of a Spotted towhee is in the western United States, Canada and northern Mexico while the Eastern towhee lives in, well, you probably figured this out, eastern United States and Canada.  They do meet and interbreed but the offspring of the unions are hybrids and therefore cannot reproduce.
It is in the Sparrow family and is a fairly common bird in the United States and parts of Canada. I've read that one has even been seen in Europe (I think that came from wikipedia so you may chose  how much of a fact that is.) Even though it is common, you are more likely to see and towhee if you live near woods or a brushy area.  And even more than seeing, you will probably hear a towhee.
They usually call from ground level with their easily identifiable, "Drink," rising upward.  Sometimes it sounds more like,"Chewink." Towhees have their own regional dialects.
In the morning and toward evening you are more likely to hear an Eastern towhee calling from the trees as they establish their territory and call a mate.  "Drink your tea," with the pitch rising on a drawn out, "tea," can be heard all over the woods from this clear-noted bird.
In my woods, the towhee chooses a high branch, perched against the sky to give its evening call.  My neck becomes tired as I strain to catch a glimpse - not always of the towhee's best side.
Whatever side I see and whichever tune it sings, I never grow tired of the Eastern towhee.


Naturedigital said...

Beautiful birds. Great photographs again.
Happy Easter to you.

RedPat said...

Great shots - I have never seen one of these guys!

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

I like those on the trees with the blue sky ...