Spotted Towhee

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image: spottedtowhee.jpg

Common Name: Spotted Towhee

Scientific Name: Pipilo maculatus

Size: 7-8 inches (17-21cm)

Habitat: North America; United States and Canada; west of the Rockies. Prefers forest edges, shrubby areas with good cover.

Status: Least Concern. Global population: 14,000,000 Mature individuals. Widespread and abundant, increasing in some areas. Island forms vulnerable.

Diet: Insects and seed, occasionally fruit. Forages on the ground, scratching in a two-footed, backwards-scratching hop called a "double-scratch".

Breeding: Two to six eggs are laid in a nest on ground or in low vegetation. Nest made of strips of bark, dead leaves, dry grass and plant stems and lined with softer materials.

Cool Facts: The Spotted Towhee and Eastern Towhee were once thought to be the same species and called the Rufous Towhee. The Spotted hybridizes with the Eastern in the Great Plains. There are 21 different subspecies of Spotted Towhee; three on islands off the Pacific Coast. The race from Isla Guadalupe off Baja California is extinct. The small race on the island of Socorro off Baja California and the larger race on Santa Catalina Island off southern California are vulnerable to extinction because of their restricted ranges. The Santa Catalina form formerly was found on San Clemente Island, but disappeared from there by 1976.

How determined is a towhee in using its “Double-scratch” foraging technique? In a reported account, “one Spotted Towhee with an unusable, injured foot was observed hopping and scratching with one foot”.

Found in Songbird Remix Cool and Unusual Birds

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