News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Sisters Country birds

The Green-tailed Towhee [pipilo chlorurus], with its distinctive rust crest, is a somewhat secretive ground-nesting bird. On occasion a Towhee uses porcupine hair to line its nest, where it lays four to six pale blue, heavily spotted eggs which hatch in 11 to 14 days. The chicks will begin foraging in 11 to 14 days. This Towhee will protect its nest by raising its tail and skittering off mimicking a ground squirrel to distract predators.

As a ground forager, it spends most of its time on the ground or in thick cover, scratching about industriously in the leaf litter, often under Manzanita so it may go unnoticed. But its catlike mewing call, which it often gives from a brushy perch, is one of the quintessential sounds of the shrublands of the east slope of the Cascades.

The Green-tailed Towhee is the smallest and only entirely migratory towhee. Their scientific name roughly translates to “colorful chirper.”

A group of Towhees are collectively known as a “tangle” or a “teapot” of Towhees. For more Green-tailed Towhee images, visit


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