Friday, February 6, 2009

Mr. Towhee where are you?

Every year, during the snowy days of early February, an Eastern Towhee comes to my feeders. He hangs around for about a week, and then he’s gone. Last year a female showed up on April 26, but she didn’t stay. Every now and then in spring and summer I can hear him in the woods off in the distance singing his “Drink your tea-eeeee” song, and I always hope he is on his way to our house, but he never is.

Last weekend Larry photographed this 
beautiful towhee in his backyard. 

Larry only lives about 20 minutes from our house, and he gets towhees all the time. What does he have that we don’t? Hmmm…well, I guess that would be thick woods…lots and lots of thick woods…and a pond. 

Here is a lovely shot Larry took of an Eastern Towhee 
in ice-encased Lemon Balm. I’m planting Lemon Balm 
this summer. Maybe that will lure him in. 
I can put in a small pond too!

…or maybe the towhee hasn’t stuck around because I can’t seem to get his new name right. No matter how hard I try, Rufous-sided Towhee still pops into my mind when I see one. That’s how I learned it 20+ years ago in my Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Eastern Region, and I can’t seem to shake it. I’m getting better though, four out of five times I now say Eastern Towhee instead of Rufous-sided, but I still have to think about it. I think the name change occurred around 1995. You’d think I’d have it by now.

He is such a handsome bird, and it’s fun to listen 
to the rustle of the leaves and watch him jumping 
forward and back kicking up the leaf litter as 
he looks for seeds and invertebrates. 

…from this moment on, when I hear "Drink your tea-eeeee," I’m going to say Eastern Towhee. I can do it. Let’s see if that will bring him to my yard.

Ack, I’m doomed. As soon as I looked 
at this fellow, rufous-sided came to mind....

14 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Such a lovely bird. I have never seen one before and would love to.

I will cross my fingers for you in hopes he will visit our yard real soon!

Kelly said...

Thanks, Kallen!!!

Roy said...

I love these guys! I was actually befriended by a male and female couple in Ballard Park last Summer; I think their nest must have been in this one particular area of the park, and even after nesting season was over they just seemed to hang around this one particular section of trail. When we first met they kept their distance and eyed me warily, but after a while they got used to my presence. Papa would always stay up on nearby tree branches, but after a while Mama would drop to the ground and start looking for bugs in the leaves on the forest floor, and more than once she came practically right up to my feet. I sure do hope they come back this year.

Kelly said...

...oh my goodness...that's incredible!! I wish I could be half as lucky as that!! If they come back, you'll have to keep a daily report of them while nesting.

Steve B said...

Nice work Larry! Kelly, I know what you mean. I was a very active birder in the 80's through the early 90's and popped out of the light for a while, then I came back and the Solitary verio got split, there is a new thrush and no more "old squaw" (not pc I guess).

Kelly said...

Steve: ...the same for me. I was very busy with work in the early 90s, and a baby mid-90s and stopped reading the birding literature. When I started getting birding magazines again and buying new field guides and other books, I discovered the change.

Cicero Sings said...

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for stopping by! We've had slim pickings for birds up here ... just our winter regulars: chickadees, red breasted nuthatches, pileated, downy and hairy woodpeckers, flickers, crows, the odd raven, flocks of bohemian waxwings (pictures today) seen where ever they can find a batch of fruit, oh and I actually saw a bald headed eagle in flight the other day. I only have a 6x zoom on my camera so I usually can't get too up close and personal with our birds. One day I had a pileated land within a couple of feet from me and fortunately I had camera in hand but I was so amazed and shocked I just about forgot to take pictures!

When I lived in the Fraser Valley (the interior coastal region of southern B.C. about an hours drive from Vancouver) I often saw spotted towhees but I haven't seen any up here yet.

Shellmo said...

I hope they visit you! I've always wanted to see a towhee!

Chris said...

Woww again. A very beautiful bird, and I wonder how Larry could get so nice shots with the snow and the difficulty to get a good contrast between the bird and the snow!!!
Well, if you are patient enough you will get them, or simply got to Larry place ;-)

Kelly said...

Shellmo...thanks! I hope you get to see one. You will like their song too. It's very fun.

Chris...Haha! You're right. We all need to just head over to Larry's place with our cameras.

Patrice said...

Beautiful shots of beautiful birds. Here in NE GA, I get a visit from these guys end of March to early April. They hop around in the underbrush where the wild roses grow in summer. I can't figure out what they're eating, and they've never visited my feeders.

Kelly said...

Patrice, thanks for stopping by! They are fun to watch hopping around in the leaves...

RuthieJ said...

What a gorgeous bird! I still call them Rufous-Sided too, but haven't seen one in my neck of the woods for years.

Kelly said...

Hey Ruthie...we will have to start a Rufous-sided support group or something...