1. English and Scientific names: Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)

2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage):

1 female, probably formative plumage (HY)

3. Locality: Parish:   Lafayette

   Specific Locality: Deer Park Ln, 2.8 km N Milton, LA

4. Date(s) when observed: 27 Dec 2012

5. Time(s) of day when observed: 9:30am

6. Reporting observer and address: Erik I. Johnson, Lafayette, LA

7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): Toddy Guidry, Marc Broussard

8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s): none known

9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light): overcast, mid-morning soft light.

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition): 10 x 42 Swarovski EL binoculars, Nikon D100 SLR with Nikon 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 VR ED lens

11. Distance to bird(s): ~50 feet

12. Duration of observation: 10-15 minutes

13. Habitat: Hardwood tree line between cane field and rural residential lots

14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation): Found with pishing and squeeking. The bird started calling, giving rising growl calls, approaching with mixed flock of common winter birds including Yellow-rumped Warbler, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-throated Sparrow, Orange-crowned Warbler, and also Field Sparrows. There were also three Eastern Towhees nearby, and one was calling (giving upslurred ‘drink’ calls and songs – heard in recording ‘c’) at the same time as the Spotted.

15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total length/relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species): Larger than White-throated Sparrow.  Bold white and buffy-white spots on wing coverts and back against dark chocolate brown upperparts, bold rufous flanks, no white at base of outer primaries, white spots at ends of outer 2 or 3 tail feathers, dark (reddish?) eye.

16. Voice: Calling only – giving rising growl/mew calls, not like clear upslurred ‘drink’ call of Eastern Towhee. Recordings of calls fit very nicely with recording #6 on the Audubon Guides smart phone app.

17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation): Eastern Towhee and hybrid Eastern x Spotted Towhee should not have combination of white spots on back and coverts and lacking white at base of primaries.  This bird, however, was perhaps slightly browner (not as blackish) as I have seen in a few female Spotted Towhees – I’m not sure what to make of that.

18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): Yes, photos and recordings of call notes by Erik I. Johnson.

19. Previous experience with this species: Seen Spotted Towhee about half a dozen times in LA over last couple years and a few times out west, but rarely heard.  Much more familiar with Eastern Towhee by sight and sound.

20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

a. at time of observation: none

b. after observation: Sibley Guide to Birds of North America, Audubon Guides smart phone app.

21. This description is written from: _____ notes made during the observation (_____notes attached?);_____notes made after the observation (date:_____); __X__memory.

22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: Almost 100%.  The lighter brown than expected has me questioning if there aren’t Eastern genes somewhere in this bird’s history, but the markings were “spot on” for Spotted.

23. Date: 29 Dec 2012  Time: 1:30pm

24. May the LBRC have permission to display this report or
portions of this report on its website? Yes

If yes, may we include your name with the report? Yes


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