The Spotted Towhee and the Eastern
Towhee were formerly considered separate races of the same species, the
Rufous-Sided Towhee (a name which is no longer used). The two are very
similar, but differ in range, as the Spotted Towhee is mostly a western U.S.
bird while the Eastern Towhee is an eastern
U.S. bird. The Eastern Towhee also lacks
the Spotted Towhee's white spots on its back and wings. The two species
may interbreed where their ranges overlap.
brush and thickets, usually as the understory to a forest/woodland.
Diet: Insects, fruits and berries,
seeds, nuts, occasionally small reptiles, amphibians, and snakes.
Behavior: Does most of its foraging on the ground,
often scratching through leaf litter in search of insects and other food.
They will also forages low in trees or in the forest undergrowth.
Nesting: June and July
Breeding Map: Breeding
bird survey map shows combined map for both the Spotted Towhee and the
Eastern Towhee, as they were only recently split into separate species from the
previous Rufous-Sided Towhee classification. The Spotted Towhee is the one
most likely to breed in the state, especially West River.
Song: Long, buzzy chee-weeee. Variable.
Migration: Some to the south and west of South Dakota may be permanent residents, but
South Dakota birds generally migrate south in the fall.
Bird Feeders: Will
attend for a suet/seed mixture.
Conservation Status: Widespread and common.
South Dakota Hotspot: Common in the western part
of the state, but in the eastern part of the state, Newton Hills State Park
in Lincoln County (southeastern corner of South Dakota) is an excellent spot
to look for both Spotted and Eastern
Towhees in the summer.
Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Spotted Towhee
Photo Information: April 19th, 2007 - Point Reyes
National Seashore, California - Terry Sohl
Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or
text links below for additional, higher-resolution Spotted Towhee photos.