Spotted Towhee

Monarch Landing on Lake Erie at Port Burwell

Many thanks to Aaron Allensen for finding the Spotted Towhee and for welcoming birders. He kindly left me a jar of bird seed to spread in the towhee spot beside the stream, assuring me the towhees would come and they did.

Male Spotted Towhee in first year (formative) plumage on 10 February 2011. Aged by older brownish juvenal primaries contrasting with newer black wing coverts.

 

In the new molt terminology, the term formative plumage replaces first basic plumage. Formative equals first year plumage for birds such as towhees that molt only once annually. Towhees do not have a separate breeding or alternate plumage. First year towhees breed in formative plumage and the following year as full adults they breed in basic plumage. For birds that molt twice annually such as Scarlet Tanager, their formative plumage is best called first winter because in spring they have a prealternate molt into alternate or breeding plumage.

Spotted Towhee at Monarch Landing Port Burwell on 10 February 2011.

 

First year male Eastern Towhee at Monarch Landing Port Burwell on 10 February 2011.

 

Male Eastern Towhee at Monarch Landing Port Burwell on 10 February 2011

 

Female Eastern Towhee at Monarch Landing Port Burwell on 10 February 2011

 

Aaron's towhee haven is beside an open stream that provides drinking water for winter birds.