Our forest management over the years is paying off by rewarding us with new backyard birds. One of the latest additions is the Eastern Towhee. I have had to drive out into the open areas of the Moquah Barrens in past years to see this bird, but now we have them singing along the edge of our yard. We live in the middle of a fairly mature forest, but selective logging and habitat management still works even if it is on a small piece of land like ours Give it a try, you will be pleasantly surprised.
A strikingly marked, oversized sparrow of the East, feathered in bold black and warm reddish-browns – if you can get a clear look at it. Eastern Towhees are birds of the undergrowth, where their rummaging makes far more noise than you would expect for their size. Their chewink calls let you know how common they are, but many of your sightings end up mere glimpses through tangles of little stems.
Eastern Towhees are characteristic birds of forest edges, overgrown fields and woodlands, and scrubby backyards or thickets. The most important habitat qualities seem to be dense shrub cover with plenty of leaf litter for the towhees to scratch around in. Towhees occur in the Appalachians to about 6,500 feet, but favor warm and dry south-facing slopes more than cool, moist northern faces.
Towhees eat many foods: seeds, fruits, insects, spiders, millipedes, centipedes, and snails, as well as soft leaf and flower buds in spring. They also eat seeds and fruits, including ragweeds, smartweeds, grasses, acorns, blackberries, blueberries, wheat, corn, and oats.