And how those benefits can last well into Springtime!

Eastern Towhee (Pipilo erythrophthalmus)

Once you have heard the early springtime call of the Towhee, you won’t soon forget it. And the chances of you hearing this bird, and not ever seeing it, are very good. They are a ground dweller and are often hard to spot based on their preference for scrubby and brushy habitat with lots of hiding places. Though nearly as large (but not quite) as the American Robin, they are much less ubiquitous in the average suburban landscape. But their call is unmistakable whistled “Drink your teeee-aaaa!”

However, given their preferred ground-forager habits…I wanted to experiment a little bit in my fall garden, and make a winterized garden bed that, come spring, maybe, just maybe, (with a sprinkle of luck) one of these guys will come along and utilize a little patch of my yard that I covered in leaves. I covered most of the rear garden bed in a layer of Silver Maple and Sweet Gum leaves from nearby trees. A winter blanket of sorts.

About 4 years ago I remember seeing the bird, on the ground, close to our house for a hot minute. But since that time, my encounters since have been solely audible. (While the photo I posted above was taken on a wooded trail, about twenty minutes away from my house.)

The leaves offer a textured appeal to the garden. While I don’t expect the bird to build a nest and grace me with his presence every day in the next breeding season, I do expect a short pop over. A quick visit just long enough for me to grab a photograph. Their song is striking, but so are the colors they sport. A unique reddish brown eye, and stark black and white plumage with a splash of rusty auburn. The female, just slightly more toned down and less showy than the male.

In the two photos below, you can see how I added texture to the garden, simply by transporting wheelbarrows full of leaves from nearby trees. I honestly did not think I would have enjoyed the end result as much as I did. But I think the winterized garden is just as visually appealing to look at, even without any flowers in bloom.

I certainly have high hopes for the Eastern Towhee in a few months. But even still, the look is much better. The garden bed has a blanket of leaves, in several warm colors, inviting the winter to settle in. Winter is all about slowing down, and on my couch, with the right blanket and the right book, I may not move for hours.

To learn more about the Eastern Towhee, click here.

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