Spotted Towhee

photo by Phil Swanson

Pipilo maculatus
L 8 1/2″ (22 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Whining “chee-ee.” Song varies, but usually ends with long trill “drink-your-teeaaa.” 

Description: Male has black upperparts and hood; white spotting on back; chestnut sides; white underparts; white-tipped outer tail feathers; red eyes; and two white wing bars. Female is similar but is dark brown where male is black. Juvenile is brown overall with dark spotting and streaking.

spotted towheeHabitat: Brushy fields, thickets, woodland edges and clearings, second-growth forests, and city parks and residential areas with trees and tall shrubbery.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident in western Nebraska. Occurs east along Platte for uncertain distance. Replaced by Eastern Towhee in east and southeast Nebraska.

Fun Facts: During the breeding season Spotted Towhees spend 70% to 90% of their mornings singing to attract a mate.

Additional Information: Formerly considered one species with Eastern Towhee: Rufous-sided Towhee. Will hybridize with Easterns where ranges overlap.

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