Description - Rufous Sided Towhee
Male Towhees are 18 to 24 centimetres in length, the western birds have dark heads and backs, a white belly, and a red eye in addition to white spots on their dark wings and back. Females are similar to the males in appearance, but the black areas are more of a brown or brownish grey.
The Rufous-Sided Towhee has a scientific name that is nearly impossible to pronounce (Pipilo erythrophthalmus). Translated it means “red-eyed chirper” referring to the red eye and its most common call, “chewink”. You’ll most likely hear these birds than see them since they are a secretive and tend to stay out of sight.
Mating Habits of the Rufous-Sided Towhee :
The males usually arrive first and begin singing to announce and defend their territory of about 1 1/2 to 2 acres, when the female arrives and the two pair, the male will discontinue his singing and the pair will begin using the “chewink” call to keep in contact with one another.
Nesting Habits of the Rufous-Sided Towhee :
The female does all the building of the nest, shaped like a cup, made of grass, twigs and rootlets and hidden on the ground, usually under the bough of a tree or shrub. These nests can be difficult to find since the female does not fly directly to the nest, instead, she lands a few feet away and using the cover of brush and walks to the nest.
The female lays 2 to 6 cream-coloured or greenish eggs that are spotted with brown which she incubates for 12 to 13 days. The young will leave the nest in 10 to 12 days after hatching.
During nest building and incubation, the male Towhee will rarely come near the nest, after the young hatch; the male helps feed the nestling.
Feeding Habits of the Rufous-Sided Towhee:
The feeding habits of the Towhee are a bit unusual. A ground feeding bird, their behaviour is similar to that of the white-throated sparrow. They hop forward and then jump backward, dragging their feet to pull leaves and debris to reveal insects and seeds. These birds are primarily seed and berry eaters, they will however; eat insects during spring and summer when they can be found easily on the ground.