Date: 6/27/18 9:42 am
From: Alan Buriak <a_buriak...>
Subject: Re: Spotted Towhee Song - BSP Carbon County
I had one memorable instance a few years ago when I recorded a strange call of an unseen bird in the farm area of Deer Lakes Park in Allegheny County. I was flummoxed to the point that I put the recording on to solicit opinions and some well-regarded ear-birders spent some time discussing the sound. The recording and discussion can be seen here:

I ended up agreeing with the most popular opinion that it was an Eastern Towhee call. Now that this discussion has come up and I listen to Spotted Towhee songs, the endings of some Spotted Towhee song varieties are mildly reminiscent of the sound that I recorded, the point being that Towhees are quite versatile and intent on confusing birders. This particular case of a bird singing Spotted Towhee song is particularly interesting as it seems at least possible that there is a distant piece of Spotted Towhee ancestry in this bird that might increase the likelihood that it would pull this song from its repertoire, but who knows, of thousands of Eastern Towhees observed singing their own varieties in the eastern US, I suppose that it is inevitable that eventually one will unknowingly mimic a Spotted Towhee song, so maybe it is nothing more than that.

Good birding,
Alan Buriak
Gibsonia, Allegheny County

Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

-------- Original message --------
From: Holly Merker <0000002d9b0d8554-dmarc-request...>
Date: 6/27/18 12:13 PM (GMT-05:00)
To: <PABIRDS...>
Subject: Re: [PABIRDS] Spotted Towhee Song - BSP Carbon County

To add to the discussion about Eastern Towhee mimicry,
I made a (poor) recording of one mimicking a White-eyed Vireo, here in Chester County a few years ago.
Short audio clip is embedded into this eBird checklist link: <>

Good birding,
Holly Merker
Chester Co., PA

> On Jun 27, 2018, at 11:02 AM, Brian Henderson <wbhenderson...> wrote:
> Here are a couple of mediocre videos with some Eastern Towhee mimicry on
> display:
> One singing a Carolina Wren song without any additional embellishment:
> Another incorporating some American Robin into its song:
> Brian Henderson
> Montgomery Co.
> On Wed, Jun 27, 2018 at 9:24 AM, Kate StJohn <
> <0000000f59b962a9-dmarc-request...> wrote:
>> Eastern Towhees can also make a variety of sounds/songs that are nothing
>> like there own. I've heard one that sounded like an American Redstart and
>> another that made an artificial noise. He sounded like a bird but he was
>> making a human gadget sound. It took us a while to figure out who was
>> making the sound. I wish we'd recorded it.
>> Kate St. John, Pittsburgh
>> Visit my bird/nature blog at
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