Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

Spring has sprung!
You can start thinking of getting that humming bird feeder out.  They are getting close. I don’t think you’ll see them until May, but it doesn’t hurt to have the feeder out.  
I will be putting my grape jelly feeder out with a few oranges this Easter weekend as orioles sometime arrive BEFORE hummers, sometimes at the same time.
Have a lovely Easter and let’s enjoy some family time, bird time and spring weather!
We have eastern towhees (pictured) in our yard right now and they are so fun to watch. They have orange, black and white on their bodies. They are not orioles!
Here are some fun facts about eastern towhees:
* Eastern towhees are ground sparrows. At first glance, male and female eastern towhees look very different. The males are black, while the females are brown. But at closer inspection, the males and females share several similar markings. Both male and female eastern towhees have white chests, orange sides and yellowish rumps.
* Eastern towhees are about eight inches (20 centimeters) long with a 10-inch (25-centimeter) wingspan.
* Many times an eastern towhee will be heard before it is seen. They sing with a musical "drink-your-teaeeee." The "tea" part of the song is a rolling trill. Eastern towhees also have a shorter "shewink" call.
* Eastern towhees live year-round in the Southeast and Midwest, and also migrate to the Northeast and the Great Lakes region in the summer. These birds like shrubby woodlands, fields and scrublands. They prefer a lot of ground cover where they can search for food.
* Eastern towhees spend most of their time foraging for seeds, insects and fruit on the ground or on low shrubs. The birds scratch the ground with their feet to uncover food buried under leaves or dirt. The eastern towhee has a thick beak that helps it break open seeds. Spiders, snails and millipedes are also eaten, and rarely the bird may eat small salamanders, lizards or snakes.
* Females usually build nests under bushes or brush piles. The bird gathers twigs, leaves and bark to construct the nest and lines it with animal hair. A female will have between two and six eggs, which incubate for 12 to 13 days. Both parents care for the hatchlings until they fledge 10 to 12 days later.
* Eastern towhees are often victims of brood parasitism from brown-headed cowbirds, who lay their eggs in the towhee's nest. The towhee incubates the eggs and rears the cowbird hatchling as its own.
* Towhees are usually shy sulkers and rush for cover at the slightest disturbance.
* Towhees are members of the sparrow Family.
* Towhees are ground feeders and use a hop-and-scratch foraging method. While jumping forward with its head and tail up, it kicks its strong legs backwards to uncover its food. They use this same technique in the leaf litter on the forest floor or underneath feeders where the seeds are clearly visible.
* Well hidden in thick cover, the nest of a towhee can be hard to find. Female towhees never land directly on it, rather they land away from the nest and walk through the thick brush to reach it.
Happy birding!
Karen Perry, Wild Birds Unlimited, Onalaska, WI, 608-781-5088.