Adult Spotted Towhee birds have rufous sides, a white belly and a long dark tail with white edges. The eyes are red. They have white spots on their back and white wing bars. Males have a dark head, upper body and tail; these parts are brown or grey in the female.These birds have a round, chunky body, fan shaped tail, short, thick beak, and dull pink legs. The western Spotted Towhee has white spots on its primary and secondary feathers. The Eastern Towhee is the same bird in terms of its size and structure but does not have white spots.

Habitat and Distribution

Northwestern birds migrate eastwards to the central plains of the United States, mostly the northwestern-central Great Plains. In other areas, some birds may move to lower elevations in winter. Their breeding habitat is chaparral, thickets or shrubby areas across western North America. This bird interbreeds with the Collared Towhee where their ranges overlap in southwestern Mexico.


These birds forage on the ground or in low vegetation, with a habit of noisily rummaging through dry leaves searching for food. They mainly eat insects, acorns, seeds and berries.


They nest either on the ground or low in bushes, at 1.5 m above the ground. The female builds the nest over a period of about 5 days. It is bulky and sturdily made of leaves, strips of bark, twigs, forb stalks, and grasses, lined with pine needles, shredded bark, grasses, and sometimes hairs. She lays 3 to 5 eggs per season and incubates for 12 to 14 days. The egg shells are greyish or creamy-white, sometimes with a tinge of green, and reddish brown spots.

Calls and Songs

Their call is harsher and more varied compared to that of the Eastern Towhee.