Rufous Sided Towhee

One of the most interesting birds on the Salem Middle School campus is the Rufous Sided Towhee:


(Original Image Licensed Creative Commons Attribution)


What he looks like:  A robin.  In fact, when we first saw him, we thought he WAS a robin!  That’s a common mistake because his sides and wings are a brownish-red.  If you look closely, though, you’ll notice that he has a black head and a white belly.  You’ll also notice that he has a long, retangular tail.  Those are the best ways to identify him — and to tell him apart from a robin. 

Where you’ll see him:  Near the ground.  The Towhee digs and scratches under leaves and bark looking for food.  It also builds its nests either on — or very close to — the ground.  Here at Salem, we’ve seen him under the bushes near the outdoor classroom and under the bushes along the fence near the bus loop. 

What he sounds like: People say that his call — which you can listen to here — sounds a lot like the phrase “Drink your tea.”  In fact, the “tea” sound at the end of his call is where he got his last name from.  Now, you’ve got to do some imagining to hear “Drink your tea” in his call.  The first hard sound is the “Drink.”  The last drawn out sound in his call — “te-ee-ee-ee” — is the “tea.”

Where you can learn more about him:  We found this article on the Wikipedia website to be helpful.