English and Scientific names:

Spotted Towhee Pipilo maculates


Number of individuals: 

One individual seen.  Adult female or young male.

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Sabine Parish

Specific Locality:

On Antioch Church Road just west of the intersection of Antioch Church Road and Marie Lane

Latitude 31.83853,  Longitude -93.53491

Date(s) when observed:

February 10, 2010

Time(s) of day when observed:  

2:00 p.m. until approximately 2:06 p.m.

Reporting observer and address:

Jeff Trahan

Shreveport, LA 71105


Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Terry Davis

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

The sky was overcast so the light was not optimal.

Optical equipment: 

Leica Binoculars: model 10 x 42 BA

Distance to bird(s): 

From approximately 15 feet to 50 feet.  When close up the bird was in the thicket and difficult to see and photograph.

Duration of observation:

About 6 minutes.


The bird was located in a low spot in an upland area in a thicket dominated by smilax.  There were also some leafless small trees and grass growing in the thicket.


Behavior of bird: 

The bird responded to the Screech Owl recording and so was rather stressed.  Most often it remained in the thicket.  However, it did perch in a tree above the thicket long enough to get a photo of it.


This bird appeared very much like a female Eastern Towhee, but had white spots on its back and no white spot at the base of the primaries.  See accompanying photo of bird.  This photo was taken when the bird was about 50 feet away perched in a tree above the thicket.


Since my hearing is very bad, I did not perceive any calls or song.  However Terry Davis did hear the bird’s calls.  In fact, he knew that a Spotted Towhee was in the area before he actually saw it because he heard the bird calling.  He described the call as a “growl call” that was ascending.  This call was heard by him at least six or seven times.

Similar species:

Eastern Towhee.  This bird appeared very much like a female Eastern Towhee, but had white spots on its back and no white spot at the base of the primaries. 

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Photos taken by Jeff Trahan using a Canon EOS 50D SLR camera with a 400 mm Canon lens.  The bird was about 50 feet away when I took the photo.  Since it was in a tree and backlit by the sky, I used an exposure compensation of +1 2/3 stops to expose the bird correctly.  The photo is attached.

Previous experience with this species: 

This is the third time that I have seen this species in northwestern Louisiana.  I have seen it more often in the western US.

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 


I am positive.

Date and time: 

February 11, 2010   2:00 p.m.