Tales from the Bent Twig Trail: Little Rustler

By Wren Smith

Male Eastern Towhee photo by Sherrie Duris
Male Eastern Towhee photo by Sherrie Duris

They used to fool me with all their rustling about in the undergrowth. Yes, I was convinced that some large animal, surely a mammal was busying away there under the bushes. But I’m on to these little rustlers now!

The Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) is about the size of a robin, but when it’s hunting for dinner it purposefully hops back and forth in the leaf litter as it tries to undercover worms, other invertebrates, and seeds. Luckily all this action amplifies their presence, and their presence is lovely. The males are especially striking with their jet black heads, white breasts and rusty orange  coloring on their sides. They have announced their activities on the Bent Twig Trail for several weeks now, not only when they’re raising a ruckus in the undergrowth with all that hopping and kicking about, but also with their songs. “Drink your teeea” they seem to sing, with the emphasis on drink and a drawn out tea. Their call notes are a clear distinctive ” chewink”, and this is also a less  common name for these lovely little rustlers. Be sure to listen, and look for them on the Bent Twig Trail, and in other shrubby areas of Bernheim.

Want more Tales from Bent Twig? Click here to view the archive.

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