California Towhee

Melozone crissalis




New World Sparrows and Towhees (Passerellida)

Code 4


Code 6



Egg Color:

Light blue or green with brown and black markings

Number of Eggs:

2 - 6

Incubation Days:


Egg Incubator:


Nest Location:

4 - 12 feet above ground.

Nest Material:

Bark, sticks, weeds, and grass., Lined with mammal hair.





California Towhee: Large sparrow with uniform brown-gray body, faintly streaked underparts, and buff throat bordered with dark streaks. Tail is long with cinnamon-brown undertail coverts. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has more diffusely streaked underparts.

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.

Breeding and Nesting

California Towhee: Two to six light blue or green eggs, with brown and black markings, are laid in a cup nest built low in a bush or young tree. Eggs are incubated for approximately 11 days by the female.

Foraging and Feeding

California Towhee: Diet consists of seeds, grain, and insects. Forages in open, but usually prefers cover, quietly double-scratching on the ground under foliage, outdoor buildings, and fences.

Readily Eats

Cracked Corn, Millet, Sunflower


California Towhee: Song is a series of squeaky chips on same pitch, accelerating into a rapid trill; pattern varies according to geographical area. Call is a sharp "chink" or thin "tseeee."

Similar Species

California Towhee: Canyon Towhee has a rust-brown crown and grayer upperparts. Abert's Towhee is buff and has a black area around bill.


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