Molting Juvenile Spotted Towhee

I don’t have as many photos of Spotted Towhees as I would like in my portfolio but I am hoping to change that since I now know where I can find them in what appears to be healthy numbers and next spring when the males are singing on their territories I am going to try harder to get them out in the open.

Juvenile Spotted Towhee, Morgan County, UtahJuvenile Spotted Towhee – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This time of the year male and female Spotted Towhees have finished raising their broods and their young are learning how to be on their own but they do look a touch ragged as they molt into their adult plumage. Last week I had an opportunity to photograph a molting juvenile Spotted Towhee in the Wasatch Mountains and I was glad that it came out into the open so that I could photograph it.

Juvenile Spotted Towhee in molt, Morgan County, UtahJuvenile Spotted Towhee in molt – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I don’t have much experience with Spotted Towhee chicks, juveniles or when they are molting into adult plumage but I believe this is a young female because where the bird shows fresh plumage some of those areas are more gray-brown than they are black, black would indicate a young male. I could be wrong though, as I said earlier I don’t have much experience with them at this age.

Spotted Towhees are notorious for staying hidden as they scratch on the ground in thickets for their food so getting one out in the open is a real treat for me.

Life is good.


Spotted Towhee facts and information:

  • Spotted Towhees are large sparrows with chunky bodies, long tails and thick pointed bills. Males have black backs, necks, breasts, heads, their black wings have white spots, sides are rufous, bellies are white and they have red eyes. Females are duller and instead of black they are brown-gray.
  • Spotted Towhees are year round residents in many areas and short distance migrants in others. They can be found in southwestern areas of Canada, Mexico and the Western U.S.
  • The habitat preferred by Spotted Towhees include forest edges, thickets, shrubs, bushes, overgrown fields, and gardens.
  • Spotted Towhees eat seeds, insects, spiders, fruits and they will take small lizards and snakes.
  • Spotted Towhees lay 2 to 6 eggs which hatch in 12 to 14 days. The females incubate and they are monogamous.
  • A group of towhees can be called a “tangle” or “teapot” of towhees.
  • Spotted Towhees can live to be at least 11 years of age.


  1. Elephants Child September 14, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    A treat for you, and a treat for us. Thank you. And the Towhee.

  2. Marty K September 14, 2018 at 5:40 am

    She does look a little rough around the edges. These are great shots. The details you caught in the feet/tarsi is really interesting — I think I can even make out the flexor tendon in the second shot.

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