The Eastern Towhee
The Eastern Towhee is a member of the sparrow family, sometimes referred to as a Brush Robin, since it is often found in thick brush. While hardly looking like a sparrow, the male towhee is tri-colored, with bright broad rusty sides (hence the old name of Rufous-sided Towhee), white under parts and black upper parts. Female Towhee’s are similar to the males, except with brown upper parts and less bright sides.
Towhees are somewhat secretive; more often heard than seen, and often feeding on the ground within a thicket. Their song is a clear ringing series of three whistled trills, phonetically sounding like “drink your teeee” with the last note being extended. Their call is equally distinctive and can be interpreted as a namesake ID; “ter wreeh” or “jor-EE.” The Towhee responds well to pishing and screech owl imitations and will come out in the open usually for a brief moment.
At Mount Auburn, towhees are not very common, considering their preferred habitat of thickets; however several are seen in the course of each spring – most often in April. Look for them in the Dell, along Rosebay Avenue under the Rhododendrons, on Palm Avenue in the clumps of Forsythia or anywhere along Indian Ridge.