Look Down Low to Spot an Eastern Towhee

Updated: Jul. 20, 2023

When you’re watching for this songbird, look out below. The Eastern towhee spends most of its time on the ground, whether it’s foraging or nesting.

Connie Etter
Eastern towhee, female (L) and male (R)

How to Identify Male and Female Eastern Towhees

Scientific Name: Pipilo erythrophthalmus.
Family: Sparrow
Length: 8 inches.
Wingspan: 10-1/2 inches
Distinctive Markings: Male has a black head, back and tail with white belly, orange-red sides and red or white eyes. The female’s coloring has a browner cast.

Meet the towhees: the birds scratching up a storm in your backyard.

Nest and Eggs

female eastern towheeCourtesy Marcy Herrick
Female eastern towhee

The female builds a nest of plant materials and cardboard near or on the ground. She lays two to six gray eggs speckled with brown.

Learn how to identify a spotted towhee.

What Do Eastern Towhees Eat?

eastern towheeCourtesy Laura Frazier

This bird’s diet consists of insects, spiders, seeds, berries; plus sometimes small salamanders or snakes. In the backyard, they may eat oats or flaxseed scattered on the ground, as well as suet.

Check out the top 10 trees and shrubs with berries for birds.

Eastern Towhee Call

eastern towheeCourtesy Michele Lam

Listen to the eastern towhee’s song. Their voice is musical with a slow song, “drink your teeeeee.”

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

What does a Baltimore oriole song sound like?

Eastern Towhee Range and Habitat

Look for these birds in old pastures, woodland edges and brushy backyards.

Eastern Towhee Bird Species

Range maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Learn about western birds and their eastern counterparts.