Spotted Towhee

Look For

The spotted towhee’s wings and back of both male and female are spotted with white. They are longer tailed and larger than our other sparrow species. You are most likely to find them foraging on the ground.

Listen For

Their song is sweet-sweet teeeeaaa! But it’s less musical than an eastern towhee’s song.

Find It

The spotted towhee is a widespread and locally familiar bird of thickets in the northern Great Plains, middle elevations of mountains and plateaus, and Pacific coastal lowlands and offshore islands. They are common in willows, sagebrush, chaparral, and brushy woods. They will visit backyard feeders near appropriate habitat for seed bits scattered on the ground.

Feeding Behavior

The spotted towhee is an omnivore so they will eat pretty much anything! This bird enjoys animal matter in breeding season and plant matter in nonbreeding season. This towhee feasts on beetles, crickets, caterpillars, moths, millipedes, spiders, small seeds, acorns, and plump fruits. They rarely forage in the open so you are more likely to find them searching for food under covers like branches and foliage. They utilize a two-footed scratching maneuver while seeking food under loose ground matter.

Nesting Behavior

Spotted towhees do not do a very good job of hiding their nest from predators as they often pick relatively exposed areas rather than nesting deep within heavy thickets and tangles. Their nests may be elevated or on the ground. Spotted towhee clutch sizes are usually three to five eggs. Females are the only ones who incubate and this lasts anywhere from 12 to 14 days. Both sexes feed the babies during growth and for about a month after they fledge. Young towhees are unable to fly for six days after leaving the nest.


The spotted and eastern towhees were once considered a single species, called rufous-sided towhee.