Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Colorful Chirpers

Green-tailed Towhees are large long-tailed sparrows. Spending most of their time under the cover of dense shrubbery, they are more often heard than seen. They make strange catlike mews and noisily thrash leaf litter around looking for food.

Towhees forage on the ground with a quick backward two-footed hop known as "double scratching." They are also said to run like rodents. I think this one looks more like a roadrunner than a mouse.

The scientific name, Pipilo chlorurus, means "colorful chirper." Hiding under bushes, they look drab grey or brown. But their colors become more obvious when they venture out into the sunlight. Field marks are: rufous cap, white throat, black mustache, grey chest and olive-green upperparts.

The books don't mention blue, but I noticed some.

This towhee didn't have a rusty colored cap.

Apparently, their head feathers can move from flat to puffed.

Sometimes they stop their fast foraging to stretch their necks up for a moment.

I don't understand all of their quirky behaviors, but they are fun to watch.
The most towhees I've seen at one time is four. Did you know that the collective name for a group of towhees is a "tangle" or a "teapot?" The group name for sparrows is "host," "quarrel" or "ubiquity."

8 comments:

Icy BC said...

Fascinating information on this colorful chipper! I love how you play with the colors, Diane!

Lindy MacDuff said...

Very interesting information on the towhees. I don't believe I've seen one before but now I will be watching the next time I am in AZ.

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

Got to love that hairstyle. :)

Salitype said...

look at the do, cool!..ha!ha1ha! birds are fascinating to watch, thanks for the information!

Loree said...

Very interesting information. We have sparrows here but not these type. At least I have never seen them (although I am not much of a bird watcher.)

Pacey said...

the feather head is so cool...

Gaelyn said...

Very different than the towhees I see around my winter feeder. Love the ruffled head feathers, really changes their look.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely photos and lots of interestign information too!