Tuesday, 10 March 2015

B.O.T.D. Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

Scraping back layers of leaves in its search for food, a Spotted Towhee puts both feet to use at the same time, doing the "towhee dance," its long calls revealing hidden morsels in the leaf litter. The resulting ruckus of ground litter being tossed about leads many people to expect a squirrel or something larger in the underbrush. What a surprise to see a colourful bird not much larger than a sparrow! Towhees like tangled thickets and overgrown gardens, especially if they offer blackberries or other small fruits. Many pairs nest in urban neighbourhoods, where they take turns scolding the resident cats or checking out suspicious sounds. These cocky spirited birds can often be enticed into view by squeaking or "pishing," noises that alert curious towhees to an intrusion. Discerned birders however, would rather not disturb these busy birds and, instead, prefer to enjoy the sound of the towhee's clamourous exploits.

The male Spotted Towhee selects a prominent perch from which to spit out his curious, trilled song, puffing out his chest and exposing striking rufous flanks. At other times, the male can be extremely shy.