Birds of the Week # 25
The Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) is a large New World sparrow. The taxonomy of the towhees has been under debate in recent decades, and formerly this bird and the spotted towhee were considered a single species, the rufous-sided towhee. Breeding begins in spring and continues to late summer. Reports of eastern towhees nesting as early as late March in Florida and Georgia, in mid- to late April in some midwestern states, and as late as mid-May in northern New England were summarized in a literature review. Literature reviews also report nest construction by the female, which takes about three to five days. Egg laying typically occurs until August. For example, a review of eastern towhees in Indiana notes nesting from 15 April to 20 August. However, a literature review of eastern towhees in Florida included a report of a nest observed on 2 September 1983 that contained two eggs. According to several literature reviews, eastern towhees may renest after failed nesting attempts and can raise two, and in the south sometimes three, broods per season.
The Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) is a bird in the family Mimidae, which also includes the New World catbirds and mockingbirds. The brown thrasher is abundant throughout the eastern and central United States and southern and central Canada, and it is the only thrasher to live primarily east of the Rockies and central Texas. It is the state bird of Georgia.
The brown thrasher has been observed either solo or in pairs. The brown thrasher is usually an elusive bird, and maintains its evasiveness with low-level flying. When it feels bothered, it usually hides into thickets and gives cackling calls. Thrashers spend most of their time on ground level or near it. When seen, it is commonly the males that are singing from unadorned branches. The brown thrasher has been noted for having an aggressive behavior, and is a staunch defender of its nest. However, the name does not come from attacking perceived threats, but is believed to have come from the thrashing sound the bird makes when digging through ground debris. It is also thought that the name comes from the thrashing sound that is made while it is smashing large insects to kill and eventually eat.
© HJ Ruiz – Avian101