The Eastern Towhee prefers to nest under a bush or brush pile, but will also locate a nest in a cluster of vines or in a bush. The nest, built by the female, is of twigs, leaves, and bark and is lined with animal hair. From 2 to 6 eggs, incubated by the female, hatch in 12 to 13 days. The nestlings, cared for by both fledge in 10 to 12 days.
The Bird Banding Lab web site reports that between 1955 and 1998, 120,062 Eastern Towhees were banded. Of these, 3,697 have been recovered, a recovery rate of 3.07%.
Banding studies show that some Eastern Towhees are short distance migrants, but are resident over much of eastern North America. They can live more than 12 years in the wild, but most live only about 4 to 6 years.
If you should recover a banded bird, please report the band number to the Bird Banding Lab by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Conservation Status and Economic Importance
Towhees provide an important service by consuming large quantities of moths, caterpillars, ants, scale insects, wood borers, beetles, snails, sow bugs and other destructive pests. Their animal diet also includes millipedes, small salamanders, lizards, and snakes.
Towhees feed on many berries, and by doing so, propagate the seeds of many useful plants including blueberries, bayberries, strawberries, mulberries, and holly berries.
Eastern Towhee populations appear to be declining. Frequent Cowbird parasitism no doubt accounts for some of this decline. Declines may also be due to the tremendous loss of woodland and edge habitats to commercial development of land.
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