"The 'Under Cover" Bird"

Green-tailed Towhee

       towhee The Green-tailed Towhee is a bird of widespread desert habitats of western North America. This Towhee migrates with the seasons. Its breeding range covers most of the western United States interior where there is sagebrush. Its winter range is Mexico and the southern edge of southwestern United States. This beautiful bird is known as the ‘colorful chipper’ because of its song and colorful bright green stripes on the wings, a white throat, and reddish cap.

        The Green-tailed Towhee is commonly found ‘under cover’, and not often seen by the novice.  It forages on the ground and in low bushes, scratching leaf litter with both feet while looking for insects, insect larvae, and seeds. If Green-Tailed Towhees are disturbed, they generally do not fly away, but drop to the ground, hold their tails up in the air, and run off to lure predators away from their nest. This procedure is much like a fleeing rodent (chipmunk) and confuses pursuing predators.

        The male Green-tailed Towhee arrives early at the breeding grounds, finds and defends a territory, and then sings and sings on a raised perch, when the females arrive, to attract a mate. The pairs are monogamous. Their nests are concealed in shrubs and seldom more than 2 feet off the ground. If a nest fails, pairs may renest as many as four times a season. When the chicks are hatched, both parents feed the young until they are able to fly. Towhee’s are constantly on the move. They have been seen this spring in Cedar Pockets, Oak Grove, Leeds, Grafton, Springdale, Diamond Valley, Enterprise, and New Harmony. Their population is estimated at 4,000,000 individuals globally with no apparent signs of decline. The Green-tailed Towhee remains understudied because of its tendencies to stay under cover. Red Cliffs Audubon has field trips with bird experts each month and you are invited to come along. Who knows, you may come away finding new birds and maybe ‘wanting to peek under the sagebrush’.

        The Artist this week is Brenda Rusnell. Brenda loves to draw and has several of her color pencil pictures on display at the Senior Center. Thank you for this rendition of the beautiful Green-tailed Towhee.  For more information about Towhees, field trips, or just want to talk 'bird talk' call 435 673-0996


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