Same color, different birds

Karl Riggle of Zanesville, Ohio, sent this picture he shot of a rufous-sided towhee:

I’m told rufous-sided towhees are not uncommon. But they are not nearly so common as robins, and at first glance you might think you’re seeing a robin. But robins can tell the difference … and people can see differences as well.

Look at this picture of a robin, submitted by Ted Harwood, who lives in the 2600 block of East Fifth Street in Duluth:

Although robins are plentiful now, Ted says this one was around all winter. Judging from calls he heard, he thinks there were two winter robins.

Differences between the two birds are apparent. Unlike the robin, the rufous-sided towhee has significant white on the breast, white markings on the wings and an inky black hoodie. You can’t tell this from the pictures, but towhees are slightly smaller than robins.

But that color came from the same crayon in the Crayola box.

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4 thoughts on “Same color, different birds

  1. I SO enjoy your blog–please keep it up! Even though I usually don’t comment I read it almost every day. :)

  2. Out here in Western Washington we have many Spotted Towhees which look very similar but have a lot of white spots on the back and wings, and a bright red eye. One of my favorite birds!

  3. Something to keep in mind, the names of the two towhees in question were changed a number of years ago. “Our” bird, formerly the rufous-sided towhee is now known as an Eastern towhee, while the western version of the rufous-sided towhee is indeed called the Spotted towhee.

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