What Do Spotted Towhees Eat: A Complete Guide

Last Updated on June 12, 2023 by

If you are a bird enthusiast or just curious about what the Spotted Towhees eat, you’ve come to the right place. This article will provide a comprehensive guide on the diet of the Spotted Towhees, including their natural habitat, feeding habits, and preferred food sources.

Spotted Towhees are small, plump birds native to North America. They belong to the family of Emberizidae and are closely related to sparrows and finches. These birds are commonly found in woodlands, shrublands, and forest edges in the western part of the continent. They have a distinct appearance with a black head, white breast, and reddish-brown sides. They are known for their bright eyes and loud, clear calls.

Natural Habitat of Spotted Towhees

Spotted Towhees prefer to live in dense vegetation, including chaparral, oak woodlands, and mixed forests. They are also found in suburban areas with bushes, shrubs, and small trees. These birds prefer to live in areas with thick undergrowth as they use this cover to hide from predators and forage for food.

Feeding Habits of Spotted Towhees

Spotted Towhees are omnivores, which means they eat both plants and animals. Their feeding habits are diverse, and they feed on a wide range of food sources. They forage on the ground, using their strong beaks to scratch and dig through the leaf litter and soil. They are also known to glean insects from leaves and branches and catch flying insects mid-air.

Preferred Food Sources of Spotted Towhees

Spotted Towhees are opportunistic feeders, and their diet varies depending on the season and availability of food. They feed on seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. Here are some of their preferred food sources:

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Seeds and Nuts

Spotted Towhees eat a variety of seeds and nuts. They feed on seeds from grasses, flowers, and trees, such as sunflower seeds, acorns, and pine nuts. They also eat fruits and berries, including blackberries, elderberries, and raspberries.


Insects are a significant part of the Spotted Towhees’ diet. They feed on insects, such as beetles, ants, and caterpillars. They also catch spiders and small insects mid-air.

Interesting Facts about Spotted Towhees’ Feeding Habits

Spotted Towhees are known to hide food for later use. They store food in the ground, under leaves or in the crevices of trees and shrubs.

These birds have a unique feeding behavior where they scratch the ground backward with both feet while simultaneously kicking dirt backward with both feet. This behavior is called double-scratching and is believed to help uncover hidden insects and seeds.

Spotted Towhees have a muscular gizzard that helps them break down hard seeds and nuts. This organ is also essential for digesting insects and other small animals.


Spotted Towhees are fascinating birds with diverse feeding habits. They eat a variety of food sources, including seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects. Their feeding behavior is unique, and they have adapted to their environment to survive and thrive. If you are a bird enthusiast, keep an eye out for these beautiful birds, and observe their feeding habits in the wild.


Can Spotted Towhees eat from bird feeders?

Yes, they can eat from bird feeders, but they prefer to forage on the ground.

Do Spotted Towhees migrate?

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Some Spotted Towhees do migrate, but it depends on their habitat and location. Those in the northern parts of their range may migrate south for the winter, while those in the southern parts may stay year-round.

What kind of birdseed do Spotted Towhees prefer?

Spotted Towhees prefer larger seeds, such as sunflower seeds and safflower seeds, but they also enjoy cracked corn and millet.

Are Spotted Towhees beneficial to gardens and yards?

Yes, Spotted Towhees are beneficial as they eat insects that may be harmful to plants, such as caterpillars and beetles.

What other birds are closely related to Spotted Towhees?

Spotted Towhees are closely related to other birds in the Emberizidae family, including sparrows, finches, and buntings.

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