Friday, June 3, 2016

Eastern Towhee Nest

Eastern Towhee is a bird that I see year round at Blue Jay Barrens.  A few of the birds overwinter here and are occasional guests at the birdfeeder. Their numbers climb significantly in the early spring with birds that spent the winter at a more southern location. Over the years, I’ve seen many young birds in the care of their parents, but have never found an active nest. Until now.

This is the first towhee nest that I have ever found.

I was walking across this field when I flushed a towhee from the grass while stepping down the cut bank shown in the center of the photograph.

Birds don’t usually flush from under my feet unless they’ve been disturbed from a nest. I stared at the bank and the surrounding area but could see no evidence of a nest.

It wasn’t until I got within a couple feet of the bank that I found the nest tucked beneath an overhanging cascade of dead grass.

The female towhee was frantically calling from a nearby cedar, so I only lingered long enough to capture a few images of the nest. I’ve read that Eastern Towhee nests are highly parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. I hope this nest avoids that fate.


  1. Why don't you like brown-headed cowbirds? I think they are really interesting birds. The parasitizing of nests is just part of nature.

    1. Hi, Mark. I don't think I've ever said anything against Brown-headed Cowbirds. I'm talking about this one nest made by a species that is far less abundant than the cowbird, which has taken full advantage of habitat fragmentation in this area to greatly increase its numbers.