Sunday, April 10, 2011

Abert's Towhees In My Backyard

Credit - Google Search "Aberts Towhee" Images
We had a nesting couple of Abert's Towhees move into one of the palms in our back yard, next to the pool pump & filter.   I don't know if these are first time parents, or just Towhees who are not too bright, but the nest is within desperate/hungry feral cat pouncing range, if the cat hears the baby birds from the wall 4 feet away.  Of course, any feral cat who would attempt such a lunge would meet the voracious spikes of the dwarf palm's inner fronds, as it attempted to devour baby Towhees.

Dr Desert Flower was able to preliminarily identify it via our Stokes Western Bird Guide, but the Stokes North American Guide has more pictures, and Cornell once again assisted for a positive ID.  Very protective parents they are, these Towhees. SEEP! SEEP! SEEPING!!! about when I've approached the pool filter and pump.  Though they've used burst latex balloons, dryer sheets, as well as left over foliage to make a nest.  I hope the brood of chicks makes it to maturity, and I don't fish out a drowned one from the pool =(

That blue in the background, is the pool, 5 feet away.
Towhees bond for life - like Dr Desert Flower and I =) ...and they make nests along desert streams in "dense shrubs" so perhaps this will be the first of many broods of chicks.  There appears to be three baby birds... but I wasn't going to "poke around" or disturb the nest any more than 5 or so seconds to find out more definitively.  I did watch as the father Towhee ardently defended his family's nest from a wandering Mocking Bird yesterday, bombing, diving, strafing the Mocking Bird until it decided to forage elsewhere.

For those of you who have never seen an Abert's Towhee before, they resemble a dull colored cardinal without the big head crest.  They love hanging around the pool, and have been doing a bang up job eating the crickets, beetles, and flies that tend to be drawn to the water's environ.  (read more here) If only they'd start eating the black widows... but the widows typically hide during the day coming out only nocturnally, and by then, the Towhees are sleeping.

1 comment:

  1. Bushmills is the current preference. Makes for a good marinade if willing. If not available, Jameson is worthwhile. Both are smoooooth.


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