Eastern towhees

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My “I’m thankful for…” list included two male Eastern towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) in the backyard last week. The guidebooks previously referred to them as rufous-sided towhees, and I still prefer that name – the way it sounds and the way it describes their unique markings.

a strikingly marked male Eastern towheeIt’s a special treat to see male or female towhees in the backyard. They usually stay in the underbrush, and we more often hear than see them when we’re hiking. I always enjoy their distinct call which sounds like “drink your tea.”

The contrast between the male towhee and one of our brilliant male Northern cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) is quite striking – perhaps symbolic of autumn and Christmas?

Male eastern towhee and bright red male Northern cardinal

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I like to practice being thankful, ideally every day of the year. My “thankful for” list definitely includes our backyard and all its inhabitants – plants and animals. I’m also grateful to be able to share the various happenings with others who share my interest in nature and its many wonders. It’s great to be a part of such a community.

14 thoughts on “Eastern towhees”

  1. Such wonderful pictures – they made my day. I call these birds my Kentucky surprise birds. Like the brown thrashers, they live in our Danville woods but sometimes come out in the yard to dig around in the leaves. For several years after we moved back here, I would go get my binoculars thinking I had a seen new bird, only to realize it was my old friends the towhees once again. Jim still calls me saying, “What is that bird?” Thank you for giving me another glimpse of them this cloudy day.

    1. Linda, it’s good to know you have towhees in your woods, see them occasionally, and hear their distinctive call. I say, lucky you.

  2. Betty, I think you must have charmed those 2 lovely birds. They look like they are posing for the camera! Thanks for adding both feathered colour and a new wonder to my day – my first introduction to the rufous-sided towhee.

    1. My pleasure, Marsha, and one of these days I hope you get to see and hear the towhees. As for the cardinal and towhee photo, truth be told, it was more luck than charm.:-)

  3. I dearly love towhees and when I see one in my yard I am utterly delighted! The photo with the cardinal really gave me a smile. Wonderful!

    1. Ann, I generally think of towhees as being in the wood and feel we are both quite fortunate to be able to see them in our suburban yards.

  4. Betty, I, too have a Rufus-sided Towhee that visits my yard every year usually early in the spring. I love to watch them jump backwards as they scratch through the leaves!! They are beautiful!

    1. Pat, glad to know you, too, see and enjoy the Rufus-sided Towhee in your yard. And yes, it is fun to watch them “working” the leaves. And sometimes they come for feed we put on the ground – especially when it is snows.

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