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Backyard Visit | Rare Green-tailed Towhee

In October, on a Monday morning right after 8 AM, my better half tells me to check out this strange sparrow eating seeds in front of his office window... I grab my camera in a rush and take a blurry photo through the window.

I use the Merlin Bird ID app on my phone to quickly identify the bird and get the unmistakable confirmation this is a Green-tailed Towhee. Not only this a new yard bird but also a new life bird.

Of course I stop whatever I was doing, check my work calendar to make sure I was not going to miss a meeting and wait for the bird with my camera.

After 15 long minutes, it finally pops up in the perfect spot, right in front of my home office window. It took a bath and was drying itself in the morning sun.

Wing stretch! The tail feathers look worn out by a long flight.

The bird rested on the ground for a while.

Once it was done resting, it flew nearby...

...and left a feather, that I kept.

This video montage shows how content the bird was after its bath, it even grabbed a bug.

The bird mostly foraged on the ground, scratching the leaf-litter while protected by the dense shrubby habitat. It would come out in the open from time to time to grab seeds.

It even ventured briefly on the patio.

On Wednesday morning, I was thrilled to account for three species of Towhee at the same time in our backyard. The Spotted Towhee showed up briefly out on the open to check things out, did not pay attention to the Green-tailed Towhee and left.

The territorial California Towhee visiting the backyard frequently showed up soon after.

The Green-tailed Towhee was very quiet and I only heard it call briefly a couple of times. It stayed in our backyard for 2 full days and must have continued its journey to its wintering grounds.


Credits and Additional Information


Our backyard provided a safe stopover habitat to this rare Green-tailed Towhee.



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