Eastern Towhee

May 10, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The Eastern Towhee is a common bird heard near forest edges but are seldom seen. This black and reddish-brown bird is often found on the forest floor where they make a lot of noise scratching at leaves with both feet at the same time. However, when it sings it climbs into small shrubs and trees. The photos in this post were taken at a very slow shutter speed. The sun nearing the horizon and the thick undergrowth casting shadows created poor lighting conditions for photography of fast moving subjects.  A tripod and image stabilization helped to get a few keepers.

Eastern Towhee (Female)

Eastern Towhee (female) (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 1.4X EF Extender III, f/4 @ 420mm, 1/50, ISO 400)

 

The Eastern Towhee eat a wide range of seeds, fruits, and insects. However, you seldom see them at a backyard feeder.  The slow shutter speed mandated by the nearing darkness gave me an opportunity to easily display the fast movement of the Towhee scratching at the leaves.  You can see the movement revealed in the blurred body.

Eastern Towhee (Female)

Eastern Towhee (female) (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 1.4X EF Extender III, f/4 @ 420mm, 1/40, ISO 400)

 

Eastern Towhee's, like the Yellow Warbler of a previous post, are sometimes victims of nest theft by the Brown-headed Cowbird. Female Cowbirds lay eggs in the Towhee's nest and leave the Towhee's to raise their young. Unlike the Yellow Warbler, the Eastern Towhee cannot recognize the Cowbirds eggs. Sometimes, the female Cowbird will remove a Towhee egg to make it even harder to notice.

Studies have shown that male Towhees will defend territories many times larger than needed simply to provide food.

Eastern Towhee (Male)

Eastern Towhee (male) (Canon EOS 7D, Canon 300mm 2.8L, 1.4X EF Extender III, f/4 @ 420mm, 1/60, ISO 400)

 

The oldest known Eastern Towhee was 12 years, 3 months old.

Dan

 


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