If you’re outside and hear a bird singing “pretty, pretty, pretty,” odds are good a Northern Cardinal is perched close by. If a shrill “weed-eater, weed-eater” reaches your ears, then a Carolina Wren is in the vicinity, while a resounding “over heeere, over heeere” means a Red-winged Blackbird is surely lurking about. But if you happen to hear a loud scratching and scuffing of leaves, followed by “Who meee? Who meee?”, then you are being blessed by the presence of this weeks “bird of the week” – the Eastern Towhee.
Sometimes mistaken for a robin or an oriole, the Eastern Towhee is a truly striking bird. The male has a black head and back, with rusty sides and a white chest. The female has similar markings, only she boasts a soft shade of brown where the male is black. Both genders tend to have red eyes. Together, they make a handsome couple.
If you can get a glimpse of them, towhees are fun to watch. They hang out around the undergrowth of shrubs and bushes and forage for food on the ground. They look rather comical as they first hop and then scratch up leaves with both of their feet at the same time. Their sturdy, cone-shaped beaks are good for cracking shells and crunching seeds, but they also munch on spiders and even small snakes, so they are great to have around!
Since most of my feeders are up on my deck, my husband helped me set up a “ground feeding” station so I could attract a few more of these lovely birds to our backyard. He even let me steal the log he was using as a gate-stop…truthfully though, it makes a much better bird perch, don’t you think?