Spotted Towhee – Facts | Call | Female | Diet | Habitat | Sound

Spotted Towhee

The spotted towhee, scientific name Pipilo maculatus is a big New World sparrow. The taxonomy of the towhees has been debated in current a long time, and till 1995 this bird and the eastern towhee had been thought-about a single species, the rufous-sided towhee. In this article, I am going to talk about Spotted Towhee sound, call, range, female, diet, habitat, images.

Spotted Towhee profile

Literature before 1995 referred to the spotted towhee as a rufous-sided towhee that resides within the western United States. An archaic name for the spotted towhee is the Oregon towhee (Pipilo maculatus oregonus). The name could also be harsher and more various than for the eastern towhee.

Large sparrow, white-spotted black back, black rump. Black breast, white stomach, rufous sides. Their Head is black and their eyes are red.

Wings are black with white spots. The tail is long and black with white corners. Short, bounding flights, alternates fast wing beats with wings pulled to sides.

The Spotted Towhee is a big, placing sparrow of sun-baked thickets of the West. When you catch sight of 1, they’re gleaming black above (females are grayish brown), spotted and striped with sensible white. Their heat rufous flanks match the dry leaves they spend their time hopping round in.

The birds could be onerous to see within the leaf litter, so your greatest probability for an unobstructed have a look at this good-looking bird could also be within the spring, when males climb into the shrub tops to sing their buzzy songs.

The kind that breeds on Socorro Island is way smaller than different rufous-sided towhees and has grey upperparts. It is usually cut up because of the Socorro towhee (Pipilo socorroensis).

Spotted Towhee Description

The spotted towhee is a big New World sparrow, roughly the identical size as a Robin. It has a long, darkish fan-shaped tail with white corners on the tip.

They have a spherical body (just like New World sparrows) with brilliant red eyes and boring pink legs. The spotted towhee is between 17 cm (6.7 in) and 21 cm (8.three in) long and weighs in at between 33 g (1.2 oz) and 49 g (1.7 oz). The spotted towhee has a wingspan of 11.0 in (28 cm).

Adult males have a usually darker head, higher body, and tail with a white stomach, rufous sides, white spots on their back, and white wing bars. Females look related however are darkish brown and gray as an alternative to black.

The spotted towhee has white spots on its major and secondary feathers; the Eastern towhee is a similar bird when it comes to its size and construction however doesn’t have white spots.

Spotted Towhee Distribution and habitat

The spotted towhee lives in dry upland forests and breeds throughout north-western North America. It is currently in California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon, Washington, and southern British Columbia year-round.

It shouldn’t be present in arid climates and because of this, doesn’t reside within the Sonoran Desert, however, resides in northern Arizona and everything of California besides the southeast nook that borders Arizona. It has additionally been identified to broaden as far eastward as western Iowa and southwestern Minnesota.

They additionally happen in fringe wetland forests and riparian forests close to the border of upland forests. Because spotted towhees’ habitat overlaps with areas of the United States that experience common forest fires (Arizona, New Mexico, California), they are typically present in unburned chaparral and keep away from chaparral and forests which have been burned as a consequence of lack of floor cover and minimal foraging capacity.

Spotted towhees will likely be current in a space that’s recovering after a burn (lower than 15 years old), as a consequence of wonderful floor cowl and ease of floor foraging from the recovering understory vegetation, though populations will lower after a forest fireplace till the vegetation has grown back.

Its breeding habitat within the southwest is essentially dependent on Coastal sage scrub because it supplies cowl from predators. They migrate to northern and northwestern United States and southwestern Canada to breed in scrubland, parks, and suburban gardens.

On the coast, it’s a lot more frequent within the Coastal Douglas-fir current in Wyoming, Montana Idaho, and British Columbia. Northwestern birds migrate eastwards to the central plains of the United States, principally the northwestern-central Great Plains.

In different areas, some birds might transfer to decrease elevations within the winter. Their breeding habitat is chaparral, thickets, or shrubby areas throughout western North America. This bird interbreeds with the collared towhee the place their ranges overlap in southwestern Mexico.


Dark hood, higher body distinction with rufous sides, white stomach, daring white spots on back, white outer corners on the black tail. Dark conical bill, red-eye.

Spotted Towhee Breeding and nesting

They nest both on the bottom or low in bushes, seldom more than 1.5 m (4.9 ft) above the bottom, and most nests are around 40 cm (1.three ft) above the bottom.

The location for the nests is often present in uncovered areas, however, conceal the nest as it’s being constructed. The feminine builds the nest over an interval of about 5 days.

It is cumbersome and sturdily made from leaves, strips of bark, twigs, forb stalks, and grasses, lined with pine needles, shredded bark, grass, and typically hair.

It is often 4.5 in (11 cm) in diameter with an interior ring of two.5 in (6.Four cm) to Four in (10 cm). The nests are constructed so the rim is at floor degree and the nest is 2.5 in (6.Four cm) deep.

At least two broods, consisting of three to 5 eggs, are laid per season. The eggshells are grayish or creamy-white, typically with a tinge of green, with reddish-brown spots that may kind a wreath or cap.

The eggs are barely rectangular, with their dimensions being 2 cm (0.79 in) to 2.6 cm (1.Zero in) long and 1.7 cm (0.67 in) to 1.9 cm (0.75 in) extensive.

The feminine incubates the eggs alone for 12 to 14 days; the younger depart the nest at 10 to 12 days. Nests are parasitized by cowbirds.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee Diet

These birds forage on the bottom or in low vegetation, with the behavior of noisily rummaging by means of dry leaves trying to find meals.

During the breeding season (spring and summer season) they primarily eat bugs, ground-dwelling beetles, spiders, and different arthropods that reside within the leaf litter that’s foraged by the spotted towhee.

They solely eat protein-rich meals within the breeding season, and within the fall and winter, they concentrate on foraging for acorns, seeds oats, and berries. They will frequent bird feeders if a current of their woodland habitat.


Their most important predators in much less developed areas are ground-dwelling snakes as a result of nests are constructed on the bottom.

There is a powerful relationship between the variety of snakes {that a} nest encounters and the lowered chance of younger chicks fledgling. In developed areas and habitats close to city growth, their most important predators are family cats.


You can discover Spotted Towhee by strolling slowly alongside the sides of forests, thickets, and overgrown fields.

Listen for the Spotted Towhee’s whiny, cat-like mew name, its fast music, or just any rustling the bird makes in dry leaves.

Look low in shrubs or alongside the bottom in locations with wealthy leaf litter and dense stems.

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Spotted Towhee Facts

  1. Watch a Spotted Towhee feeding on the bottom; you may in all probability observe its two-footed, backward-scratching hop. This “double-scratching” is utilized by plenty of towhee and sparrow species to uncover the seeds and small invertebrates they feed on. One Spotted Towhee with an unusable, injured foot was spotted hopping and scratching with one foot.
  2. The Spotted Towhee and the very related Eastern Towhee was once thought-about the identical species, the Rufous-sided Towhee. The two types nonetheless happen collectively within the Great Plains, the place they generally interbreed. This is a standard evolutionary sample in North American birds – a holdover from when the nice ice sheets cut up the continent down the center, isolating birds into eastern and western populations that finally grew to become new species.
  3. Early within the breeding season, male Spotted Towhees spend their mornings singing their hearts out, making an attempt to draw a mate. Male towhees have been recorded spending 70 % to 90 % of their mornings singing. Almost as quickly as they appeal to a mate, their consideration shifts to different issues and so they spend solely about 5 % of their time singing.
  4. Spotted Towhees stay in drier habitats than Eastern Towhees. Some scientists have prompt that the daring white spots on Spotted Towhees’ backs assist them to mix into the sun-dappled undergrowth.
  5. The oldest recorded Spotted Towhee was a male, and a minimum of 11 years old when he was recaught and rereleased throughout banding operations in California. Learn more about the Canada goose.

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