Spotted towhees (Pipilo maculatus) are denizens of dry, brushy areas and forest edges – habitats with dense shrub cover and lots of leaf litter. Here they hop about scratching for seeds, nuts, berries and small invertebrates. Because they usually forage (and nest) on the ground in dense cover, spotted towhees are often difficult to spot.
These large sparrows are resident here in Northeastern California where Leonard and I live. Last week we had over a foot of snow (can Spring be only two days away?). With the ground covered in snow, the hungry spotted towhees were willing to leave the safety of their shrubby habitat and visit our yard, where we scatter feed. Leonard and I were delighted to see these rare visitors.
Spotted towhees have black heads, white bellies, rufous flanks, and are black with white stripes and spots on their upper sides. Males and females look alike. Until 1995, when they were separated into two species, spotted towhees and eastern towhees were considered one species and called rufous-sided towhees.
This spotted towhee was photographed on the deck of a friend’s house on County Road 91A in Lookout CA (Modoc County). She obligingly swept the deck and scattered seeds for her feathered friends.
More information about the spotted towhee may be found in my previous 10-10-2011 post titled “Spotted Towhee”.