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Tea Time With The Eastern Towhee

Every year or two I decide to concentrate on a specific group of birds. This year it is the sparrow family, and within that family resides one of my favorites - the Eastern Towhee. They are much larger than the other "Little Brown Birds", and the males have a very dramatic colorization of black and dark orange (rufous), and the females are a paler brown with rufous breast. Towhees are a bit shy, and so you will need to search for them under brush and in thickets where they can be found scratching for seeds and insects.

The male Eastern Towhee will sing his song "Drink Your Teeeea!" at the top of his lungs every spring. He does this to attract a mate and declare his territory. Apparently male towhees think drinking tea is an extremely macho attribute! (click the link above to listen to their song)

Eastern Towhee male singing 

Towhees are often found in brushy areas scratching in the leaves looking for tender nibbles. You have to look carefully to see them, but if you are patient they will sometimes jump up to a higher point to get a really good look around.

Scratching for his lunch

Quick look around

I have a fondness for the female Eastern Towhee. They are a bit more shy and elusive, and this is one of the few photos I have of one. They tend to stay a bit more hidden in the brush, but one day I was very lucky to find this cute little lady catching insects out along a tree line.

Female Eastern Towhee

Next time you are in a park or in a brushy area, listen for the Eastern Towhee's song. If you look closely you might just see this tea drinking bird.

Almost spring!