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Posts Tagged ‘Eastern Towhee’

During the winter months you sometimes have to search a little harder to find birds, but they are definitely still with us. When I caught a glimpse of this bird’s rust-colored feathers earlier this week at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, I assumed it was an American Robin.

When I zoomed in, however, I was thrilled to see like that the bird was an Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). Towhees share many of the same colors with the robins, but they are arranged in a completely different way. I think that towhees are supposed to be relatively common, although I personally do not see them very often.

I love to play with words and “towhee” for some reason is fun to say out loud. Try it yourself—it is virtually guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

Eastern Towhee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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When I spotted this bird on Monday at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, it was facing away from me and I couldn’t immediately identify it. It had fluffed up its feathers and appeared to be basking in the sunlight.

When it finally turned its head slightly, I caught a glimpse of its red eyes and realized that it was probably an Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). All of the other times that I have seen towhees in the past, they have been foraging in the cluttered undergrowth, so it was a real treat to see one more or less in the open. As a bonus, the light coming from the left helped to illuminate some of the details of the bird’s beautiful feathers and the bird’s pose is quite different from that of a typical perched bird .

Eastern Towhee

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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At first I thought that the black and orange birds rooting about in the fallen leaves were American Robins (Turdus migratorius), but a closer look through the undergrowth revealed that there was white on their breasts and that their eyes were red.

It turns out that they are Eastern Towhees (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), a strikingly marked oversized sparrow. It was quite a challenge to get somewhat unobstructed shots of these birds. They seemed to be in constant motion, hopping about and rummaging through the leaves—I had to chase them around for quite some time to get these modest shots.

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© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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