Spotted and Eastern Towhees

A male Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus...

Image via Wikipedia

Katie Johnson asked me if I had any photographs of the Rufous-sided Towhees that she has seen near her home.  Well, Katie, alas and alack, I do not have photos of the Rufous-sided Towhees.  KIDDING!!  Actually I have photos of the Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus).  Several years ago, the people that are responsible for doing such things, separated the Rufous-sided Towhee into two distinct species, the Spotted Towhee and the Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus), pictured here (not my photo).  So the rufous-sided is no more.  Giving Katie’s geographical location, I suspect she is seeing the Spotted Towhee.  They are, obviously, very similar.  As you can see from the above Wikipedia photo, the Eastern lacks the spots on the wings.  The four photos below are mine and they are all of the Spotted.

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhee

So there you have it.  I hope everyone enjoyed this article about the Eastern and Spotted Towhees and their differences.  Click on the images to see enlargements.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. 🙂

17 thoughts on “Spotted and Eastern Towhees

  1. Hi Bob – I am learning amazing things from your blog – Can you expand on what you said about the original species being no more, and ‘the people who are responsible for doing such things’ splitting the species into two separate ones? The first point sounds odd because surely the original species of Rufous-sided Towhees will still breed and spread in the wild? The second sounds rather unethical, unless there was a distinct reason for it? Just interested, Bob! Magic photos as ever!

    Take care


  2. Nice post, Bob. Rumor has it that there were Eastern Towhees seen in the blind at Pedernales Falls SP sometime last week, but on my visit on Sunday all I saw were the spotted variety. Darn pretty bird though and your shots are fantastic. Have a blessed and safe Thanksgiving.

    • Thanks, Jim. BTW, about Pedernales Falls SP, is it difficult to get to the blinds. I.E. is there close parking so I don’t have to tote my big Beast too far?

      Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. 🙂

      • Very short trip from parking spot to the blinds. Certainly a shorter walk from the parking spots than to any of the blinds at South Llano River SP. A little longer than the immediate parking at SASP, but not much longer.

        It seems like PFSP may have moved the parking a little closer to the blinds when they built the new one a couple of years ago. Decent benches in the blind, too, though I’d prefer maybe a hair higher.

  3. Ooh, you are so right, Bob! I’m staying at someone’s house, and I looked at his guide, which says Rufous. Silly me. I thought it was a strange name for my bird, but then it was the bird I know, so i thought I was wrong. But I am home now, and just looked at my Peterson guide, and yep, it’s Spotted! 🙂

    I love the way the birds’ look. The plumb chest, such attitude, and I get a thrill when I hear that digging in the leaves.

    Thanks so much for these photos, Bob!

    • At first you were right, but your guide wasn’t updated yet. I think they keep changing birds names just to keep us on our toes. 🙂 And they do have attitude, don’t they. I am glad I had the photos to show you. Many thanks for the great comment.

    • You probably have a Spotted Towhee there on occasion, depending on the time of the year. We have the Green-tailed out west in the Big Bend area, but not around here in San Angelo. Thanks for commenting, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too.

  4. The Eastern Towhees have been some of my common visitors in my backyard. I like them!
    I love the way they flash the white of their tails.
    Nice photos as always Bob!

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