New garden birds: Towhee & Field Sparrow

April has been a good garden birding month for me and I've added two new garden birds to my list. Early April a couple of Field Sparrows popped in and they've been dueling with the very similar looking Chipping Sparrows for seed. Today I went out in the garden and I heard the distinct call of the Rufous-sided Towhee. My heart skipped a beat because I've never had them in my garden before. I slowly edged to the thicket and I managed to get a quick look at the female before she disappeared into the brush.

It’s always awesome to see new birds in your garden, but it's even more rewarding when they come as a result of a gardening strategy. Last year I let the brambles and raspberries take over a lot of my 'wilderness' area to see if I could attract more birds that like this type of habitat. Almost immediately I started noticing more sparrows lurking in the underbrush and this year seems to be a continuation of that trend. I've ordered some berry bushes and a couple of shrubs that will replace some of this wild undergrowth, although I'm planning to leave certain areas wild. I'd also like to put some native grasses that produce seeds for birds down the other side of my fence line. Does anyone know where I could buy native grass seed that will be ideal for birds?

I also have another question for ya. Is the bird I saw officially a Rufous-sided Towhee or an Eastern Towhee? My Peterson ID's it as a Rufous-sided although several of the online sites refer to it as an Eastern. Personally I prefer the descriptive Rufous-sided and I wish they'd stop changing bird names - wassup with that? If you want to see some superb photos of the Towhee that I saw please click here.


Patrick Belardo said...

Nice birds! Rufous-sided Towhee was split into Eastern Towhee and Spotted Towhee. I think this was done in 1995.

Owlman said...

Oh ok, so where does Eastern feature in this discussion?

Mel said...

Wow! It's always nice to find new birds in our gardens or parks.
I'm not familiar with North American birds, not even familiar with most of my regional birds, but I love to learn new things, so I'll visit back to find out if you got your id on the bird!
Good luck!

Owlman said...

Thanks Mel. I'm hoping to get my garden list up to 100 within the next couple of years, although adding another 30 odd birds is going to be tough going. I think adding new vegetation such as berries, shrubs and grasses should help.

Eve said...

Hey Owlman,
We call them eastern here now...looks like they split the rufos-sided as patrick said into the western and eastern species. Seems like they could have come up with a better name than Eastern for ours!!! hahahaha! I have the eastern here and I love to hear them call...drink your teeeeeea! Also learn their other call so your not confused...its so hard to see them because they love to forage around on the ground. But you can find them at the tip of a bush or tree calling proud. I'm still waiting for mine to return yet!! Can't wait!!!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Owlman,
Have you considered getting your backyard habitat certified with National Wildlife Federation? It's easy and fun, just go to nwf.org and click on the "outside in nature" link.
I've never had a towhee in my backyard, but that would be something really special! Glad you've got one.

Owlman said...

Hi Eve - Let's just call it Towhee ;-) I agree with you, Eastern Towhee, wow let's get original people...

RuthieJ - I'll definitely look into that, thanks

Incredible photos shared by the Flickr community group - Owls of North America. Click on the play button to begin the slideshow - ENJOY!