Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Eastern Towhee - Pipilo erythrophthalmus
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General Comments Long known as the Rufous-sided Towhee, the species was split a few decades ago, and birds in the East are appropriately named the Eastern Towhee. This familiar species nests over the entire state, and winters essentially statewide, as well, though in the higher mountains it can be difficult to find in winter. It is a bird of overgrown fields, thickets, dense areas in woods, residential shrubbery, forest edges/ecotones, and other fairly brushy places. It is one of the few species that nests from the coast (maritime shrubs) to the higher peaks (in younger vegetation).
Breeding Status Breeder
NC BRC List Definitive
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank S5B,S5N
Global Rank G5
Coastal Plain Permanent resident, with barely noticeably migratory movements. Common across the region, at all seasons. Nests commonly along the Outer Banks, as well. Peak counts:
Piedmont Permanent resident, with migratory movements. Common across the region in summer, and common across the majority of the region in winter, but only fairly common in the western/foothill portions. Can be less common in winter during and after severe weather. Peak counts:
Mountains Permanent resident, but less numerous in winter. In summer, common across the region, at all elevations. In winter, fairly common in the lower elevations, but uncommon between about 3,500 and 5,000 feet, and rare higher. Peak counts:
Finding Tips None needed.
Attribution LeGrand[2023-04-01], LeGrand[2012-11-04], LeGrand[2011-12-18]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
Click on county for list of all known species.
NC Breeding Season Map
Map depicts assumed breeding season abundance for the species.