Abert's Towhee

Melozone aberti

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Emberizids (Emberizidae)

Code 4

ABTO

Code 6

PIPABE

ITIS

Egg Color:

Blue white with dark brown speckling



Number of Eggs:

2 - 5



Incubation Days:

14



Egg Incubator:

Female



Nest Location:

In trees or shrub.



Nest Material:

Forbs, bark pieces, leaves, and vines., Lined with dead grasses and mammal hair.



Migration:

Nonmigratory



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General

Abert's Towhee: Large, stocky, secretive sparrow with distinct black face, pale gray bill, gray-brown upperparts, paler gray-brown underparts and rust-brown vent. Tail is long and darker than upperparts with rust-brown undertail coverts. Sexes are similar. Juvenile underparts are paler, duller, and faintly streaked. May be difficult to spot because it perfers to stay well-hidden under bushes.

Range and Habitat

Abert's Towhee: Found primarily in the Colorado and Gila River valleys in Arizona and parts of California, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Generally prefers desert riparian and desert wash habitats. Preferred habitat includes dense vegetation, including thickets of willow, cottonwood, mesquite, and saltcedar; also found in cities or suburbs in exotic plantings.

Breeding and Nesting

Abert's Towhee: Two to five blue white eggs with dark brown speckles are laid in a nest made of forbs, bark pieces, leaves, and vines lined with dead grass and mammal hair. Nest is built in tree or bush, usually 25 to 30 feet above the ground. Female incubates eggs for about 14 days.

Foraging and Feeding

Abert's Towhee: Eats seeds and insects. Scratches in litter and gleans from the ground and shrubs, often in shade.

Readily Eats

Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Nut Meats

Vocalization

Abert's Towhee: Song is a series of 4 to 6 repetitive "peek" or "chip" notes, accelerating and dropping in pitch at the end, "chip, chip, chip, chip, chip, chee, chee, chee, chee, chee." Call is a sharp, thin slightly nasal "peek", often repeated.

Similar Species

Abert's Towhee: Canyon Towhee inhabits different range, has gray upperparts, face, and sides, chestnut-brown cap, dark breast spot, necklace of dark streaks, pale chin and throat, and white belly. California Towhee is browner overall with paler chin and throat, gray necklace, and pale eye-ring.

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Undertail covertsX
Small feathers that cover the areas where the retrices (tail feathers) attach to the rump.
UpperpartsX
Back, rump, hindneck, wings, and crown.
FaceX
The front part of the head consisting of the bill, eyes, cheeks and chin.
VentX
Birds do not have two separate cavities for excrement and reproduction like humans do. In birds, there is one single entrance/exit that suits both functions called the vent, cloaca or anus.
RiparianX
Relating to or living or located on the bank of a natural watercourse (as a river) or sometimes of a lake or a tidewater. 
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X