Eastern Towhee

photo by Phil Swanson

Pipilo erythrophthalmus
L 8 1/2″ (22 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Rising “tow-whee or “chee-wink.” Song sounds like “drink-your-tea-ee-ee-ee-ee.”

Description: Male has black upperparts and hood; chestnut sides; white underparts; white wing patches; white-tipped outer tail feathers; buffy undertail coverts; and red eyes. Lacks white spots on back and white wing bars of spotted towhee. Female is similar but is brown above where male is black. Juveniles are brown overall, and have dark streaking and spotting on back, head, and sides.

Bird Map
Habitat: Brushy fields, thickets, woodland edges and openings, second-growth forests, and city parks or residential areas with trees and tall shrubbery.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident in eastern Nebraska. Breeds locally west to Colorado along Platte and Republican Valleys, and to Sioux County in Pine Ridge area.

Fun Facts: Eastern Towhees are common victims of the Brown-headed Cowbird and are often unable to tell the difference between their own eggs and the intruders.

Additional Information: Once considered one species with Spotted Towhee: Rufous-sided Towhee. Will hybridize with Spotted Towhee where ranges overlap.

female Eastern Towhee - photo by Phil Swanson male Eastern Towhee - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)