Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.


You are here

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

Related shows:

Rachel Carson and Silent Spring

Among the most welcome features of spring is the renewal of bird song. Can you imagine a spring without the voices of birds? The silence would -- as they say -- be deafening, the absence of their songs like the loss of one of our primary senses. Rachel Carson's 1962 book, Silent Spring, helped... read more »

Topics & Themes:  environmental champion

Spotted Towhee

The Spotted Towhee forages mostly on the ground, and even builds its nest on the ground, or close to it. Its mewing call can be heard from the underbrush, as it scuffles in the leaf litter for food. Look for the ruby-red eye that sparkles from its black head. Learn more about the Spotted Towhee... read more »


Towhees' Distractive Plumage

Both this Eastern Towhee and the Spotted Towhee of the West sport a black or dark brown hood and back. And when they fly, their tails flash white. When a hawk gives chase, the towhee's flashing tail-feathers draw the predator's attention. Momentarily distracted, the hawk may come up with just a... read more »

Topics & Themes:  plumage

Vernal Equinox - West

Ahhh, the first day of spring . . . at last! And the birds know somethin' is up. Both science and folklore tie Spring to the renewal of nature, as the world awakens from the long cold winter. Here's a Virginia Rail, usually unseen but hardly unheard, ringing in the new season. Spring has sprung.... read more »

Topics & Themes:  migration, vocalization

Celebrating the Vernal Equinox

The vernal equinox, the first day of spring. The moment when the sun is directly above the equator, and day and night are nearly equal all over the world. Yet birds sense the growing hours of daylight through a surge of hormones. It’s time to sing! Both science and folklore tie spring to the... read more »

Topics & Themes:  vocalization

Leave the Leaves

To help backyard birds through the winter, do less. Leave the leaves or rake them under plantings. The tasty insects and spiders underneath will be food for the towhee and this Song Sparrow. Don’t deadhead. Pine Siskins and goldfinches love to snack on dead flowerheads. Make an insect hotel out... read more »

Topics & Themes:  gardening