Check in any scrubby habitat around Essex County and you have a good chance of coming across an Eastern Towhee. In particular, check the feeders at Ojibway Nature Centre and the habitat along the West Beach Footpath at Point Pelee National Park. Listen for the distinctive “drink your tea” and look for birds scratching on the ground.
A strikingly marked, oversized sparrow of the East, feathered in bold black and warm reddish-browns – if you can get a clear look at it. Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size. Their chewink calls let you know how common they are, but many of your sightings end up mere glimpses through tangles of little stems.
Size & Shape
Towhees are a kind of large sparrow. Look for their thick, triangular, seed-cracking bill as a tip-off they’re in the sparrow family. Also notice the chunky body and long, rounded tail.
Males are striking: bold sooty black above and on the breast, with warm rufous sides and white on the belly. Females have the same pattern, but are rich brown where the males are black.
Eastern Towhees spend most of their time on the ground, scratching at leaves using both feet at the same time, in a kind of backwards hop. They spend lots of time concealed beneath thick underbrush. You may see this bird more often when it climbs into shrubs and low trees to sing.
Look for Eastern Towhees in brush, tangles, thickets, and along forest edges where there’s plenty of leaf litter for the birds to forage in.
*Image and description were sourced from: allaboutbirds.org