Abert's Towhee Nest with Young and Adults Bringing Food to Nest, May 9, 2009
Verde River, Maricopa County, Arizona
Photos by Greg Clark
In this photo the type of nest construction can be seen for Abert's Towhee. The bulky nest is cup-shaped, with abundant use of long grass and strips of bark. This nest is in thick undergrowth, about 1.75 meters above ground, and underneath a cottonwood tree. Note the fresh green materials on the outside of the nest. Abert's Towhee have a short incubation period of 14 days, but are still parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds in spite of the short window. About 80% of the entire range of this species is found in Arizona. This bird has adapted to habitat change with nesting common in tamarisk (salt cedar) and ornamental backyard hedges and gardens. It is a common backyard bird in irrigated areas in Phoenix, or where artificial riparian habitat has been constructed in residential areas.
Here is a different nest located at a different location near the Verde River. This nest is in Tamarisk (salt cedar) and is located 1.5 meters above ground. In this photo it appears that the two parents are eating a bug together while standing on the rim of the nest. Actually, the bird on the right brought the larvae to the nest and presented it to the bird on the left. The bird on the left is carefully removing small bits of the bug to feed to the young below. The bird on the right is patiently holding the bug steady until it has been carved up and fed to the nestings. Below is a photo of the baby birds in the nest.
Here is the same nest with the baby birds patiently waiting for the parents to arrive with food. Note again, the long flat strips used to build the nest.
Copyright Greg Clark, 2007