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Merlin Bird ID

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    Spotted Towhee

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    Spotted Towhee

    Pipilo maculatus
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Passerellidae
    Basic Description

    The Spotted Towhee is a large, striking sparrow of sun-baked thickets of the West. When you catch sight of one, they’re gleaming black above (females are grayish brown), spotted and striped with brilliant white. Their warm rufous flanks match the dry leaves they spend their time hopping around in. The birds can be hard to see in the leaf litter, so your best chance for an unobstructed look at this handsome bird may be in the spring, when males climb into the shrub tops to sing their buzzy songs.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Spotted TowheeRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    You can find Spotted Towhee by walking slowly along the edges of forests, thickets, and overgrown fields. Listen for the Spotted Towhee’s whiny, cat-like mew call, its rapid song, or simply any rustling the bird makes in dry leaves. Look low in shrubs or along the ground in places with rich leaf litter and dense stems.

    Other Names
    • Rascador Moteado (Spanish)
    • Tohi tacheté (French)

    Backyard Tips

    Spotted Towhees are likely to visit – or perhaps live in – your yard if you’ve got brushy, shrubby, or overgrown borders. If your feeders are near a vegetated edge, towhees may venture out to eat fallen seed. If you want to attract towhees to your feeders, consider sprinkling some seed on the ground, as this is where towhees prefer to feed. Find out more about what this bird likes to eat and what feeder is best by using the Project FeederWatch Common Feeder Birds bird list.

    • Cool Facts