to·​whee | \ ˈtō-ˌhē How to pronounce towhee (audio) , ˈtō-(ˌ)ē, tō-ˈhē \

Definition of towhee

1 : a long-tailed passerine bird (Pipilo erythrophthalmus of the family Emberizidae) of eastern North America with the male having reddish sides, white underparts, and black upperparts, head, and neck

called also chewink

2 : any various similar related birds (genera Pipilo and Melozone) found mainly in western North America

Note: Towhees live primarily on the ground, often in bushes and thickets, where they feed on insects and seeds.

Examples of towhee in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web To date, Creager’s rescues have included a cardinal, a wren, a towhee and a mockingbird. Mary Colurso |, al, 23 Sep. 2020 The idea is to walk the course and look for the birds, starting with Canada geese on Hole 1 and then through such species as Eastern towhees, American robins, belted kingfishers and mallards. Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2020 In such gardens, expect to see wood thrushes and eastern towhees. Washington Post, 16 Oct. 2019 Reports from Crane WMA in Falmouth included 2 American kestrels, 9 Eastern phoebes, 2 grasshopper sparrows, 18 Eastern towhees, 2 bobolink, 4 Eastern meadowlarks, a dickcissel, and 2 blue grosbeaks., 11 Sep. 2019 The dawn chorus on Camp Stewart Road is mostly Northern cardinals, American robins, Carolina wrens and Eastern towhees. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, 20 June 2018 Summer species include Northern bobwhite, black-chinned hummingbird and spotted towhee. Houston Chronicle, 10 May 2018 The short, river-hugging trail leads you beneath tall oaks; birds to be seen include towhee and mockingbird. Peter Fish, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Feb. 2018 Northern mockingbirds have started singing in earnest, along with Eastern towhees. Taylor Piephoff, charlotteobserver, 16 Feb. 2018 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'towhee.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of towhee

circa 1729, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for towhee

probably imitative of the bird's call

Note: This name for the bird was first recorded by the English naturalist Mark Catesby (1683-1749) in The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, vol. 1 (London, 1731), p. 34. The description of the bird is under the heading "The Towhe-Bird." The heading "Passer niger, oculis rubris [black sparrow with red eyes], the Towhe Bird" without the description was published slightly earlier by Cromwell Mortimer in "VI. An account of Mr. Mark Catesby's essay towards the natural history of Carolina and the Bahama Isands, with some extracts out of the first three sets," Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, vol. 36, issue 415 (December 31, 1730), p. 430. If the name is descriptive of the bird's two-note call, as is usually assumed, the original stress was probably on the second syllable.

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The first known use of towhee was circa 1729

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Cite this Entry

“Towhee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Jun. 2022.

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