Lots of towhees on a rainy day

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee perches on a branch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee perches on a branch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

I spent some of the rainy Saturday at Bennett’s Pond in Ridgefield, Conn. I didn’t see or hear a single warbler, but I did see and hear several eastern towhees. It is a great bird with interesting plumage and a unique song.

Formerly called the rufous-sided towhee, this bird has light brown/reddish flanks. Its call is a loud and quickly uttered “tow-hee” and its song is the famous “drink-your-teaaa!” They are more often seen on the ground, scratching in the leaves to uncover food. The male is pictured in this post. The female, which I couldn’t photograph yesterday but did see, is also a handsome bird with white and reddish light brown plumage.

They were passing through in large numbers Saturday. I hope at least a few of them stick around locally to nest. It’s a great bird to see in summer when the birding can get a little slow.

You can even see the little rain drops on this guy.

Here’s one of him singing: Drink-your-teaaa!

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee sings from a perch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee sings from a perch in Ridgefield, Conn., April 2017.

 

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Plant native trees, shrubs, flowers for the birds

Photo by Chris Bosak An Eastern Towhee eats a crab apple during a cold winter day at Weed Beach in Darien, CT., Jan. 2014.

Photo by Chris Bosak
An Eastern Towhee eats a crab apple during a cold winter day at Weed Beach in Darien, CT., Jan. 2014.

I’m far from a landscaping expert. Anyone who has seen my jungle of a garden in the summer can attest to that. But I do know that using native trees, shrubs, bushes and flowers are the way to go.

Whether they are planted with the intent to attract birds or not, using plantings that are native to your area reduces the risk of potentially using an invasive exotic species that will eventually overtake native species. It also is better for the native insect population because in many cases the insects can not feed off the non-native plants, thereby reducing the number of insects that serve as valuable food for birds. Reducing the number of insects may sound like a good thing at first, but we’re not talking about pest insects such as mosquitoes, we’re talking about insects that you probably never see, but have high value to birds.

There are a million other reasons to use native plantings and a million great options for doing so. Again, I’m not a landscaping expect, but a simple internet search of “planting native species [enter your state here]” will lead you in the right direction.

Quickly though, here are a few suggestions of native plants that have worked well for me – coneflower [great for goldfinches and other small birds], black-eyed susan, crab apple, sunflowers, and bee balm.

Feel free to comment below to say which native plants work well for you in regards to attracting birds.

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