Eastern Towhee

(Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

Conservation Status
Eastern Towhee
Photo by Kirk Nelson
  IUCN Red List

LC - Least Concern


N5 - Secure

SNRB - Unranked Breeding


not listed

Species in Greatest Conservation Need






7 to 8½ in length

10½ wingspan




The song is a high note quickly followed by a low note, then a high trill.


The call is a single, upturned note lasting just one second, repeated in 4 to 6 seconds.


Similar Species


Woodland edges and shrubby fields
















Uncommon migrant and breeder southeat, central, north-central, and northwest; rare to casual elsewhere




The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union All Seasons Species Occurrence Map

  Class Aves (birds)  


Passeriformes (perching birds)  


Passerellidae (New World sparrows)  


Pipilo (typical towhees)  

New World sparrows were traditionally combined with buntings into the family Emberizidae. Recent phylogenetic analysis (Barker et al. 2013) and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analysis (Klicka et al. 2014) found that the Old World buntings should be separated as a sister to New World sparrows. New World sparrows have been separated into a new family, Passerellidae.


Subordinate Taxa


Alabama Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus canaster)

Red-eyed Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus erythrophthalmus)

Riley’s Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus rileyi)

White-eyed Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus alleni)















Visitor Photos

Share your photo of this bird.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Attach one or more photos and, if you like, a caption.

Gregory Gilman

Chawow ! Elusive, tough shot. On alert for more...

  Eastern Towhee    
Kirk Nelson

The song is unmistakable – “drink your tea-e-e-e”

  Eastern Towhee   Eastern Towhee
MinnesotaSeasons.com Photos




  Eastern Towhee
Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren
  Eastern Towhee  
  Eastern Towhee
JMC Nature Photos
  Eastern Towhee  
  Eastern Towhee
  Eastern Towhee  



Visitor Videos
Share your video of this bird.
Kirk Nelson
  Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)
Aug 12, 2015

Published on Aug 12, 2015

I first knew this bird as the Rufous-sided towhee, but learned it was later reclassified. Whatever its name, the song is unmistakable – “drink your tea-e-e-e.”

Other Videos
  Male Eastern Towhee, Pipilo erythrophthalmus
Bob C

Published on Mar 31, 2012

Size & Shape
Towhees are a kind of large sparrow. Look for their thick, triangular, seed-cracking bill as a tip-off they're in the sparrow family. Also notice the chunky body and long, rounded tail.

Color Pattern
Males are striking: bold sooty black above and on the breast, with warm rufous sides and white on the belly. Females have the same pattern, but are rich brown where the males are black.

Eastern Towhees spend most of their time on the ground, scratching at leaves using both feet at the same time, in a kind of backwards hop. They spend lots of time concealed beneath thick underbrush. You may see this bird more often when it climbs into shrubs and low trees to sing.

Look for Eastern Towhees in brush, tangles, thickets, and along forest edges where there's plenty of leaf litter for the birds to forage in.

Credit, http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Towhee/id

Found at Blacklick Woods Metro Park, March 29, 2012

  Eastern Towhee Song - Pennsylvania
Clive Bramham

Uploaded on Oct 30, 2011

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus; Rødsidetovi) singing. The unmistakably loud and emphatic "drink your tea" song. Typical bird of woodland edges. Westmoreland County, July. Playlists: Birds of Pennsylania and North America. MP4

  Rufous-sided Towhee at Rockefeller State Park Preserve

Uploaded on Mar 22, 2010

Rufous-sided Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus) at Rockerfeller State Park, Sleepy Hollow, New York

  Eastern Towhee Singing (Nature Sounds) Michigan - June 22, 2011 - Open Window Videos
Connie Myres

Published on Mar 9, 2012

This Eastern Towhee came out after a thunderstorm swept through and knocked out the power. To me, it looks like it has an executioner's hood on. Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus).

--- Open Window Videos are videos of a scene that appear and sound as if you are looking out an open window into a landscape. These nature sound videos are meant to played in the background on a screen as if you had an open window. They are best viewed on a flat screen TV on the wall or computer monitor.

--- Visit: ConnieMyres.com

  Eastern Towhee
The Music of Nature

Uploaded on Jul 19, 2010

The Music of Nature proudly presents "Eastern Towhee," a video portrait that features exquisite footage and great sound. The video includes scenes depicting several individuals; note the considerable variation in song. The "classic" song sounds like "drink your teeeee." The call sounds like "tchweee" or "tow-weee".

© 2010 Lang Elliott




Visitor Sightings

Report a sighting of this bird.

This button not working for you?
Simply email us at info@MinnesotaSeasons.com.
Be sure to include a location.

Gregory Gilman

Location: Rochester, MN

Chawow !

Elusive, tough shot.

On alert for more...

Eastern Towhee

Mary Foster

Location: Arden Hills, MN.

We've had, what I think are, a pair of Towhees in our yard in Arden Hills, MN.

Appear to be all brown with a flat, fanned shaped tail. Never have seen them before.

Kirk Nelson

Location: Lebanon Hills Regional Park

The song is unmistakable – “drink your tea-e-e-e”

Eastern Towhee

Brent Glowa

Location: Mantorville, MN

first time I have seen one.


Location: 5 miles south west of Marine on St. Croix

the Towhees have been here for about 2 weeks

MinnesotaSeasons.com Sightings




Last Updated:

About Us | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | © MinnesotaSeasons.com. All rights reserved.