The Eastern Towhee

March 25, 2018

The Eastern Towhee is a member of the sparrow family, sometimes referred to as a Brush Robin, since it is often found in thick brush. While hardly looking like a sparrow, the male towhee is tri-colored, with bright broad rusty sides (hence the old name of Rufous-sided Towhee), white under parts and black upper parts. Female Towhee’s are similar to the males, except with brown upper parts and less bright sides.

Towhees are somewhat secretive; more often heard than seen, and often feeding on the ground within a thicket. Their song is a clear ringing series of three whistled trills, phonetically sounding like “drink your teeee” with the last note being extended. Their call is equally distinctive and can be interpreted as a namesake ID; “ter wreeh” or “jor-EE.”  The Towhee responds well to pishing and screech owl imitations and will come out in the open usually for a brief moment.

At Mount Auburn, towhees are not very common, considering their preferred habitat of thickets; however several are seen in the course of each spring – most often in April. Look for them in the Dell, along Rosebay Avenue under the Rhododendrons, on Palm Avenue in the clumps of Forsythia or anywhere along Indian Ridge.

About the Author: Bob Stymeist

Bob Stymeist is Bird Observer's Bird Sightings Compiler and a regular bird walk leader for the Friends of Mount Auburn. View all posts by Bob Stymeist →

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