California Towhee

Melozone crissalis

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Emberizids (Emberizidae)

Code 4

CALT

Code 6

PIPCRI

ITIS

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ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The California Towhee is native to the United States and Mexico. This is a terrestrial bird that has a range of nearly 400,000 square kilometers. The global population of the California Towhee is believed to be nearing 5 million individual birds. As a result of its fairly large range and population, the California Towhee has been downgraded from a previous rating of Lower Risk to a current rating of Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

California Towhee: Large sparrow, uniform brown-gray body, faintly streaked underparts, buff throat bordered with dark streaks. Tail is long with cinnamon-brown undertail coverts. Pink-brown legs and feet. Short flights with rapid beating wing strokes alternating with wings pulled briefly to sides.

 

Range and Habitat

California Towhee: This species is a resident in coastal areas and foothill chaparral habitats ranging from southern Oregon, along much western California, and throughout Baja California. Its other preferred habitats include shady underbrush, open woods, pinyon-juniper woodlands, and suburban gardens.

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SONGS AND CALLS

Voice Text

"chink", "tseeee"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • California Towhees are highly territorial and will often battle their own reflections in windows or other reflective surfaces.
  • First named as a separate species in 1839, they were combined with Canyon Towhee in 1886. Studies of their mitochondrial DNA has recently resulted in them being considered a full species once again.
  • They forage on the ground, scuffing the dirt with both feet at once in a fast, hopping motion.
  • A group of towhees are collectively known as a "tangle" and a "teapot" of towhees.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

HELP ME IDENTIFY A BIRD

BACKYARD BIRDING

BIRDS AND BIRDING

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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.
Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X