Friday, February 3, 2006

Friday Creature

When I was a kid, I remember my mother listening to records of bird calls and she attended ornithology programs over at Cornell a few times. She was a serious birder, so you'd never catch her telling us kids to "look at the birdie" -- she was specific! It was "look at the blue jay" or "wow! there's a bobolink!" But for some reason, the bird name I remember most from my childhood is the rufous-sided towhee. I recently discovered, though, that there is no rufous-sided towhee anymore. The species was divided into two -- the spotted towhee and the eastern towhee. I don't think either name is nearly as cool as their former identity, though, so for me this Eastern Towhee is still and always will be rufous-sided.

Here're more Friday Creatures! Have a wonderful weekend -- may it be at once restful, relaxing, reflective and restorative.

8 comments:

bobw said...

very nice. I always like the birds that are named after the sounds they make (bobwhite being a particular favorite).

fletch said...

This is one of my favorite songbirds. They don't seem to live up in the mountains tho. Its song is so cheerful.

joe public said...

I had no idea that the classification had been split like that. We have a pair of these that returns to the woods behind our house -- or maybe they just stay? It's warm enough..



My dad called out birds by name like that, and bought me the little "golden" books (Peterson would come later), so I have been referring to our backyard friends as "rufous-sided" from memory too.



I have also always mis-pronounced the word "towhee" because I never really got that it was onomatopoeic until very recently, when I distinctly heard the birds' call. The pronunciation was another hand-me-down from Dad.

John said...

When birds are renamed, the new names are rarely as colorful as the older ones. I think the worst is turning the Audubon's and Myrtle Warblers into the prosaic Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Rurality said...

I find myself still calling them "rufous sided" all the time.



Another name that they ruined was "solitary vireo". (So much better than "blue-headed vireo"!) Don't get me started on Oldsquaw...

chad edwards said...

I love towhees. For a couple of years I had a couple that seemed to be living under my shed. I noticed their foods of choice were Quaker Oats and millet- the other birds won't touch millet for some reason.



I haven't seen a towhee this year to my dismay, I thought it might have something to do with this warm weather we're having. On the other hand, I have a regular Carolina Wren at the feeder- a first for me in the winter.



Great picture, Alice.

chad edwards said...

BTW- I was talking to some people today about eastern towhees- and I forgot to mention that around these parts people often refer to them as "ground robins".

sravana said...

Gorgeous bird, Alice.

I didn't know about the demise of the name, either. I don't think we have them around these parts, or either I just don't get out enough to see them. :\