January 31, 2012
In November and again on Monday, we noticed a new bird in our yard, the spotted towhee. According to the bird book, the spotted towhee is a winter resident with a black head and back, white wing markings, rust or rufous colored sides and a red eye.
It was sound, not sight, that first clued us in to this visitor. My husband had the windows open, and he heard continuous rustling in the mulch. It wasn't the gentle examining that a wrens and cardinals do, but powerful and purposeful rummaging, like a chicken scratching for bugs.
Towhees like to hunt in shrubby undergrowth. Our growing xylosma hedge seems to fit that description, and we've enhanced the habitat by filling the beds with shredded sycamore leaves from a neighbor's tree.
Speaking of birds, if you live in South or Central Texas, I have a recommendation for you. Check out this birding blog that my friend Sam recently launched. Whenever I am stumped by a bird ID question, Sam has the answer. (He identified this generic looking warble for me last year.) He also tips me off to when seasonal are birds have made their appearance. I'm always impressed by his adventures and bird knowledge.