Still Seeing Spots

Spotted Towhee

Spotted Towhees (Pipilo maculatus) are common year-around birds on South Fidalgo Island and throughout the Pacific Northwest.  A previous post from early March revealed the discovery of Towhees here with more spots than we usually see.  They seemed to be birds normally seen further east and south which wandered into our area.  In a subsequent post, these variants were identified by Greg Gillson as P. m. 'curtatus' or Nevada Towhees.  Their normal range is southeast British Columbia, eastern Washington, through Idaho, Nevada and into southeastern California.  Our local 'oregonus' variants of the Northwest coast are much less spotted as exemplified by this female:

Spotted Towhee

At the time, the question was whether these spottier birds were just winter visitors or migrants passing through.  Since I am still catching photos of them at the BirdCam stations, it is beginning to appear that some may have settled here permanently.  Perhaps this is the beginning of a local population of extra spotty hybrids.  It will be something worth keeping an eye on and spot check, so to speak.


  1. The migrants here at my home in Beaverton, Oregon have moved on. Only a pair of first year Oregon Towhees remain. Though I tentatively identified the more spotted Spotted Towhees as curtatus (the regular breeding form in eastern Oregon), it is possible they (and your) birds could be arcticus, the form from farther east and north.

    Whatever, they have never been documented west of the Cascades in Oregon (and I suspect not in Washington and SW BC), so here is an opportunity for a bander to add new knowledge!

    All this from our backyard feeders, Dave!

    Pretty Cool!

  2. p.s. Make sure you check the outer tail feathers!

    The more highly spotted towhees have big white tail spots (taking up half the tail) and the outer vain of the outer tail feather is white for the whole length.

    I am not sure that your male above is really the more highly spotted towhee. At least, not from this view. I don't see white outer tail feather and the darker rust side is also good for Oregon Towhee.

    Keep checking!


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