by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Why Not Make a Memory?"

Spotted Towhee

spotted towhee
       The memory of seeing the beautiful Spotted Towhee will last forever. This handsome finch, slightly smaller and more slender than a Robin, has a dark black head, back, wings, and tail. The back, wings and tip of the tail are decorated with spots of white. The eyes are red, the sides and flanks are red-orange, and the belly is white. The Spotted Towhee is widely distributed over the U.S. and parts of Canada. A common name in Canada is Rufous-sided Towhee. On the east coast it’s called Chewink. There are several other names people call this bird such as Bullfinch, Swamp Robin, Red-eyed Towhee, Marsh Robin, Turkey Sparrow, and Jo-ree. So pick your favorite name. The song of the Spotted Towhee is heard as ‘drink your tea’ or ‘chewink’. Thoreau described the song sounding like ‘hip-you, he-he-he-he’. Here in the west, the Towhee speaks a different language which sounds more like the mewing of a kitten. If you have an opportunity to see and hear the Spotted Towhee, listen carefully for its song.

        We were able to see the Spotted Towhee while participating in this year’s Christmas Bird Counts. We know for certain they can be found if you look. They are here year round. Several were seen about a mile east of the East Entrance at Zion. Others were seen at the St. George RV Park located in Harrisburg, and in the vicinity of Jacob Hamlin’s home in Santa Clara. The Spotted Towhee spends most of its time rummaging in leaf litter, underneath bushes to find food. Towhees must like this particular location, for even their nests are built close to the ground. Why not make a memory and find one of our favorite birds, the Spotted Towhee.

        J. L. Crawford is the artist this week. Even though he passed on in 2011, his knowledge and his drawings of birds live on. If you have questions about birds, monthly activities of the Red Cliffs Audubon, or the upcoming St. George Winter Bird Festival, call 435 673-0996 or visit our home page.

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